UN urges rethink on Israeli relations

2013-02-03 10:00

Council’s scathing report informs nations, businesses not to support human rights violations in occupied territories.

The UN Human Rights Council urged governments to reconsider their relationship with Israel in the light of human rights violations committed by the Jewish state.

The council this week released a scathing report in Geneva, Switzerland, on the state of human rights in Israel, saying there is “institutionalised discrimination” in the occupied territories.

“The mission calls upon all member states to specifically not recognise an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations,” the report said.

The council, which consists of 47 member states, sent French lawyer Christine Chanet with a team to Israel to observe the state of the settlements and the conditions under which Palestinians live.

Their report found the settlements to be a step towards the “creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”.

It argues the settlements are for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews and are developed to ensure segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population.

“This system of segregation is supported and facilitated by a strict military and law enforcement control.”

The report also urges businesses to stop doing business in Israeli settlements to avoid being party to human rights violations.

“Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not

adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian people,” it said.

Governments and businesses were told by the council to insist that products made in occupied territories are labelled as such. Currently these products are labelled “Made in Israel”.

“This situation poses an issue of traceability of products for other states wishing to align themselves with their international and regional obligations.”

But Israel hit back, saying the report is typical of the council’s anti-Israel stance.

“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” Israel’s foreign ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said, adding that the report is not helpful in finding a solution in the Middle East crisis.

“Counterproductive measures, such as the report before us, will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Palmor said in a statement.

“The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without preconditions.”

UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organisation, said the report disregards the thousands of suicide bombings, knifings and other terrorist attacks committed by Palestinian Arab groups. It also says the report fails to

acknowledge how this violence brought about Israeli security measures in the territories that did not previously exist.

According to its website, UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee.

The council is seen in the UN fraternity as traditionally more sympathetic to Palestinians while the UN Security Council is seen, with its constant blocking of resolutions on Israel, as pro-Israel.

Last year, Israel refused to be subjected to the Universal Periodic Review, which is run by the council, because it considers the council to be biased.

The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism by which the UN reviews the state of human rights in member states, and nations are called to account if the council feels there are worrying signs of human rights violations.

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