The International Court of Justice at the Hague should be asked to issue an
advisory opinion on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners and on the
special nature of Israel’s prolonged “occupation” of Palestinian territory,
United Nations special rapporteur Richard Falk said on Monday.
his statement, as part of a 16-page report on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians
that he delivered to the UN Human Rights Council, which is holding its 20th
session in Geneva through July 6.
The UNHRC spent most of Monday debating
Israel’s actions in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It did
so through a mechanism known as Item 7, under which a portion of every council
session is devoted to Israeli actions against Palestinians.
[should] be given for a request to the International Court of Justice for an
advisory opinion on the Israeli practice of transferring detained Palestinians
to prisons in Israel, denying normal visitation rights,” Falk said.
added that such an advisory opinion should be “possibly joined to a request for
legal clarification of the special character of prolonged belligerent
He added that he asked the UNHRC to commission a study to
examine if international law adequately covered situations of prolonged
occupation. It should also commission a second study on Israel’s use of
administrative detention against Palestinians, Falk said. He also asked the
UNHRC to censure Israel on this issue.
The UNHRC should take “emergency
notice” of legislative attempts by Israel this spring to legalize West Bank
outposts. Such action, he said, increases Israeli claims to Palestinian land and
undermines the Palestinian right to self-determination.
He also asked the
council to pay increased attention to Israel’s refusal to cooperate with his
work on the council’s behalf. This refusal, he told the council, undermined its
stature and legitimacy.
The report touched on wide-ranging topics,
including administrative detention of Palestinians, Israeli settlement activity
and settler violence against Palestinians and Israeli military actions in
Israel’s military retaliation against Palestinians rocket fire from
Gaza is not justified, Falk said.
“Israel continues to rely on excessive
or disproportionate use of force in Gaza,” he said.
“There is a renewed
urgency for the international community to respond to these developments,” he
He said that international intervention was needed, and that those
who call for it in Syria, should do so here as well.
responsibility to protect is to attain legitimacy as an application of
international law, it must be applicable everywhere, in particular the situation
of prolonged occupation that prevails in the occupied Palestinian
Otherwise, the responsibility to protect will be discredited
due to selective application,” he said.
Israel, which has cut off ties
with the council, was not present during the discussion.
It also has
refused to cooperate with Falk, who has been the special rapporteur for the
council on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since
A professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University,
Falk is an outspoken critic of Israeli actions in the West Bank and
In the past, he has compared Israeli policies toward the
Palestinians with the actions of Nazis toward the Jews during the
But after the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor
said, “Once again, the UNHRC distinguishes itself with phantasmagorical
statements that pander to the interests of the dictatorships, which manipulate
the council. From the people who have bestowed human rights honors on the likes
of Gaddafi, Castro and Assad, nothing can surprise anymore. This is yet another
sad proof that the UNHRC leaves boycott as the only possible interface with its
Western countries were largely absent from the debate
that followed, which included countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Syria,
Cuba, Libya, Bahrain and Turkey, all of whom condemned Israeli actions against
The Palestinian representative accused Israel of ethnic
cleansing and of instigating racism and hatred against his people.
asked Falk to state how such actions and Israel’s failure to comply with
international law reflect on “Israel’s membership to international
Norway, the Russian Federation and Cyprus, which spoke on
behalf of the European Union, issued more measured and balanced
But only the United States condemned the council itself. Its
Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said her country, “continues
to be deeply troubled by this council’s biased and disproportionate focus on
Israel, as exemplified by this standing agenda item.”
and legitimacy of this council can never be complete as long as one country is
unfairly and uniquely singled out for its own agenda item,” she added.