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UN report criticizes Israel's 'illegal occupation', demands prosecution of officials

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GENEVA — The United Nations Commission of Inquiry, which continues to investigate rights violations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 11-day struggle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year, released its second report on Thursday, calling on the Security Council. Ending the “permanent occupation” of Israel and enabling UN member states to prosecute Israeli officials.

Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, which, in a 28-page report to be submitted to the General Assembly on October 27, accuses Israel of violating international law by making permanent control over the West Bank and annexing Palestinian-claimed territory in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“Israel’s actions constituting de facto annexation include confiscating land and natural resources, establishing settlements and outposts, constructing a restrictive and discriminatory planning and regime for Palestinians, and extraterritorial extension of Israeli law to Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” the report said. ” it’s called.

It also accuses Israel of discriminatory policies against Arab citizens, stealing natural resources, and perpetrating gender-based violence against Palestinian women.

The Commission gave “reasonable grounds” for concluding that Israel’s presence in the West Bank was “no longer illegal under international law due to its persistence” as well as the “de facto annexation policies” of the Israeli government.

“Israeli governments, ignoring international law in establishing or facilitating the establishment of settlements and transferring Israeli civilians directly or indirectly to these settlements, have set forth the facts to ensure permanent Israeli control of the West Bank,” said Navi Pillay. former UN human rights chief who chaired the commission.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks at a press conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, December 2, 2013. (AP/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

The authors requested an urgent advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice “on the legal consequences of Israel’s refusal to end its occupation” and an investigation from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The report makes no mention of the words “Hamas”, “rockets” or “terrorism”.

Israel refused to cooperate with the commission and did not allow it to enter Israel or enter Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s Geneva mission dismissed the report, saying: “Brokerenches who make antisemitic comments and proactively engage in anti-Israeli activism, before and after their appointment, have no legitimacy or credibility to address the issue at hand.”

The embassy added that the report damaged the credibility of the UN and human rights mechanisms.

Pillay chairs the open-ended investigation and is joined by Miloon Kothari from India, the first UN special rapporteur on adequate shelter, and Chris Sidoti, an Australian international human rights law expert.

Kothari caused an uproar this summer as he spoke out against the “Jewish lobby” in a podcast and questioned Israel’s inclusion in the UN, sparking accusations of Israel’s antisemitism and calling for his resignation. Pillay defended Kothari, saying his comments were deliberately contextualized. Kothari has since apologized.

Sidoti had previously denied accusations of anti-Semitism against the commission, saying they were “scattered like rice at a wedding”.

A Palestinian man throws stones at Israeli settlers and an Israeli soldier during clashes in Huwara, near the West Bank city of Nablus, 13 October 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The commission was established last year, following the conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israeli and Palestinian terrorists, in a special session of the council in May 2021, mandating the UN Human Rights Council to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law”. and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Rather than being tasked with investigating a specific crime, the commission was the first to receive open-ended mandate from the UN rights agency, and critics say such continued scrutiny shows anti-Israeli bias in the 47-member state council. Fans support the commission as a way to follow up on the injustices faced by Palestinians under decades of Israeli rule.

Its first report, an 18-page document published in June, blamed Israel’s “constant discrimination against Palestinians” for the violence between the two sides.

In Washington on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price did not address the findings of the experts’ report, but reiterated US concerns about the UN commission.

“Israel is consistently unfairly targeted in the UN system, including during this commission of inquiry,” he told reporters. “No country should be exempt from scrutiny, but no country should be unfairly targeted. And that is the principle we are trying to uphold.”

B’nai B’rith International, a 180-year-old Jewish organization, also criticized the investigative commission, making it clear on Thursday that commissioners do not even need to pretend to be doing their “investigation” objectively. ”

A photograph taken early May 11, 2021 shows a building in Ashkelon, southern Israel, damaged after a rocket fired by the Hamas terror group from the Gaza Strip into Israel during the night, amid escalating violence (JACK GUEZ/AFP)

The organization accused the report of “only referring to non-governmental organizations that have been fiercely critical of Israel, none of which focused on Palestinian human rights violations by Israelis or Palestinians,” and thus largely ignoring Israel’s deaths and harm to civilians.

Following Kothari’s statements this summer, Israel urged the commission to disband immediately. Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in late July that the commission was “fundamentally tainted by the publicly expressed prejudices of its leadership, which did not meet the fundamental standards of impartiality, independence and impartiality required by the United Nations”.

Israel justifies its policies, including the blockade (together with Egypt) on the Gaza strip, as necessary security measures to stop terrorism. Palestinians claim the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for an independent, future state.

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