The Palestinians plan to ask for international protection from alleged Israeli war crimes at Friday afternoon’s informal meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.
The document presented to the council in preparation for the meeting states, “For nearly 50 years, since Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, the Palestinian civilian population has endured systematic human rights violations, and even war crimes, by the occupying power.”
It further states that “the international community, foremost the Security Council, continues to fail to hold Israel accountable and to compel a halt to its violations and compliance with its legal obligations.”
Technically the public discussion is not considered to be a formal Security Council meeting. It will be held under an informal UN mechanism known as the Arria-Formula.
Council members Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela will chair the meeting.
The Security Council’s 15 member states are not required to attend, but they are still expected to. This particular meeting is open to all member states.
Israel typically attends meetings when permissible but is opting not to go to this one.
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It has, however, urged sympathetic member states to send lower level representatives or to push the discussion toward one about the Middle East in general.
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Thursday: “In a week when terrorists are continuing to stab Israelis, and yet another attack tunnel was discovered on our southern border, the very request for a meeting on ‘protection’ for the Palestinian people mocks the founding principles upon which the United Nations was founded. We call on the members of the Security Council not to give legitimacy to yet another useless initiative by the Palestinians who continue to spread baseless lies about Israel.”
International protection and settlement building are the two issues the Palestinians have pushed the Security Council to address this year, with little success.
They have spoken of presenting a formal resolution against settlement activity, but have yet to do so.
US President Barack Obama has blocked resolutions against Israel at the council since taking office in 2009.
Israel said that while it opposes Friday’s informal gathering, it said that the Palestinians have turned to the Arria-Formula because there was not enough consensus to hold a formal meeting on the matter.
The Palestinians, however, have held that the Security Council is shirking its role with regard to the Palestinians, particularly given that it has not issued a single resolution against Israel in the last seven years.
In the concept note drafted for the meeting, they argued they are due international protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
“Israel’s illegal policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories constitute not only grave violations of this obligation, but reflect a total abdication of its responsibilities. Rather than ensuring the safety and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population, the occupying power is the direct and constant source of their suffering and hardship,” the concept note stated.
They cited as evidence of such abdication Israeli three military operations in Gaza, in the summer of 2014, the fall of 2012 and the winter of 2008-2009.
The concept charged Israel with “deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas” in Gaza, but made no mentions of the thousands of rockets and motor shells that Palestinians in Gaza have fired against Israel.
In the West Bank, the concept note stated, Israel has deprived Palestinians of their human rights by conducting violent military raids, extra-judicial executions, widespread arrests, detention and torture as well as home demolitions and forced displacement of the Palestinian people.
It has allowed for “rising Israeli settler violence and terror against Palestinian civilians,” the concept note said.
In addition, it added, there are “draconian movement restrictions violating rights to education, healthcare, livelihood, movement and worship.” The concept note made no mention of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The note pointed out that the Security Council has in the past issued resolutions that call for international protection for the Palestinians, including in 1987 and 1994.
“All of this has been to no avail as the Security Council has remained paralyzed, allowing Israel to continue its violations with impunity and with grave consequence for the civilian population,” the concept note said.
It explained that Friday’s meeting would allow the council to hear presentations from legal scholars, human rights advocate and others about the dangers facing the Palestinian population living in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
“Protecting civilian lives and sparing them the atrocities of war must be seen as necessary corollaries to the aims of peace and security, not as contradictory. The Security Council can and should act to protect civilians in situations of armed conflict, including situations of foreign occupation, and should make this objective a priority simultaneous with efforts to end conflicts and promote peaceful solutions,” the concept note said.
At a public council meeting in April about the Middle East, the Palestinians issued a call for international protection. That meeting was interrupted by news that a Palestinian terrorist had detonated a bomb in Jerusalem, wounded 21 people.
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