UNHRC set to debate West Bank settlement report

Council to discuss resolutions filed against Israel after report concludes Israel could be culpable before the ICC.

March 18, 2013 06:08
3 minute read.
e1 stop 521

e1 stop 521. (photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters)


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The United Nations Human Rights Council will on Monday debate a report by its fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements, which concluded that Israel could be culpable for building over the pre-1967 lines before the International Criminal Court, if the Palestinians become party to the Rome Statute.

The report was first published in January, but the debate on the document takes place during the council’s 22nd session from February 25 to March 22.

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On the same day, the council will also debate two other reports and six resolutions on Israeli actions in areas over the pre-1967 lines: east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

It includes a report and a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which it captured in 1967 during the Six Day War and annexed in 1981.

Neither the report nor the resolution on the Golan Heights took into account the civil war raging in Syria that has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, or the danger posed to Israel by the rebel forces.

The council will also hear a report on the most recent serious outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last November, known as Operation Pillar of Defense.

That report states that it is possible that one of the more publicized incidents from the war, the death of the 11-month old son of a BBC reporter, may have been caused by a Palestinian-launched rocket that fell short of its Israeli target.

Although the council is weighing censuring a number of other countries, including Syria and Iran, Israel is the only country with multiple resolutions filed against it.

The resolutions against Israel are part of Agenda Item 7, which mandates that the council scrutinize Israel’s actions over the pre-1967 lines at every session. The Geneva-based non governmental group UN Watch provided The Jerusalem Post with copies of the draft resolutions.

Although the council has consistently focused more on Israeli action than those of any other country since its inception in 2006, Israel cut its ties with the international body only last year to protest the fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements.

The report, written by a three-person legal team, appeared to take a stand in support of boycotting West Bank settlement products by suggesting that businesses cut their ties with those West Bank Jewish communities.

It warned that private companies could be liable in the future for breaking international law.

Similarly, a draft resolution has already been circulated but not filed asking the council to ratify the report. It spoke of the importance of ensuring that private businesses uphold international law, including with respect to the West Bank settlements, the security barrier and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

A separate draft resolution that is also likely to be filed to the council on Monday, called on Israel to halt all settlement activity and to rescind actions taken in the last year to advance building projects in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, including the E1 project located within the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that he expected the resolutions to pass, as they always do.

“There will be no surprises. They will make their outrageous statements as always,” Palmor said.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said that the fact-finding mission was a “sham.”

“Despite claims to objectivity, the resolution creating the inquiry had determined the verdict from the start, declaring that settlements constituted ‘very serious violations’ of Palestinians’ human rights.

Fact finding was only to support this foregone conclusion,” he said.

“The report is maliciously one-sided and its conclusions extreme. Its narrative omits any reference to terrorism from Palestinian areas, making Israeli security measures appear malevolent. UN Watch’s submission on highly relevant West Bank social, economic and security matters – quoting UN and World Bank reports – was completely ignored.”

Israel has long argued that the best way to deal with issues raised by the council is through direct negotiations with the Palestinians that leads to a final status solution.

The Palestinians, in turn, have refused to talk directly with Israel until it halts all West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. They believe that such resolutions show that they have international support and will help ensure that Israel stops these activities.

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