– K. Kakraba Pratt
Folks, I was reading Ghana news and came across this news item that a lot of Ghanaians appear to be rejoicing over as an honour to the memory and honour to our distinguished and illustrious son, the Late Major General Francis Vib Sanziri, who died while on duty as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights in Syria. I am referring to the naming of a road named after him as Vib Sanziri Route by Israel, an illegitimate occupying force.
Folks let us be clear. Why was Major General Vib-Sanziri in the Golan Heights in the first place? He was there because during an illegal invasion into Syria in 1967, Israel then the aggressor, seized the Golan Heights which is the legitimate territory of Syria and has occupied it ever since illegally as part of spoils of war, against international law and against the wishes of the Syrian government and people as well as the will and dictates of the United Nations which is the world body. There has been several condemnations from all over the world and several UN resolutions, some vetoed by Israel’s friends on the UN Security Council, for Israel to respect international law and return those occupied lands to no avail.
Recently the United States of America under president Trump have illegally and against international public opinion, unilaterally recognised the Golan of the Heights as a bonafide part of Israel thereby strengthening Israel’s hand in starting to develop the disputed lands as part of its territory.
It is a disputed land. It is illegally being occupied by Israel despite the international outcry. That is why UNDOF is in the Golan Heights and that is why Major General Vib Sanziri was there as the Head of Mission and Force Commanding Officer.
Question to ask is that does Israel, as an illegitimate occupier of land not belonging to her, have any rights and lawful authority to name a road, a stone, a canal or even the forest or any part of the Golan Heights in anybody’s honour? The answer is a brazen NO. The only authority that has the right to name anything in the Golan Heights are either the legitimate owners of the land that is Syria or the United Nations that have legal administrative supervision of the territory and not the illegal occupying force.
So I further ask, is it an honour in anyway, shape or form to be associated with a brazen illegality? Ghana is a member of the United Nations and a signatory to the United Nations Charter and has on many occasions voted with other members of the UN to uphold all its resolutions. We have a direct interest in ensuring compliance with UN resolutions. Israel is being disingenuous and looking for a way to court acceptance and legitimacy in the Golan Heights by cooking this fake honour in order to rope in one of Africa’s vociferous and most ardent supporter of the UN and its principles.
Ghana, by our non questioning of this honour and by accepting this as an honour are acquiescing to Israel’s chicanery and its wanton disrespect and disregard for United Nations resolutions and decisions.
Ghana must protest through its mission in the UN and the Israeli representative in Ghana by asking that the renaming of the road is a dishonour to our distinguished son and must be reversed forthwith. We cannot be seen to be supporting an illegality anywhere in the world even if the perpetrator is our friend. We must rather use our friendship and our good relationship with the government and people of Israel to nudge them in the right direction of respecting international law and international public opinion.
The Ghana Armed Forces must have known the history of the Golan Heights and must surely protest the dishonour that this action does to its image. We are recognised as among the top UN member nations that contribute hugely to UN peace missions across the world. We must not be dishonoured in this way.
We don’t need honour from a basically dishonourable principle. We must reject this dishonour as a matter of principle and also as our added contribution to global peace and security.
(The writer is a governance and public policy analysts in London)