U.N. Human Rights Council mulls call to end arms sales to Israel

The draft text regarding a possible arms embargo will be brought up as part of five anti-Israel resolutions the council is expected to approve.

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March 22, 2018 21:49
3 minute read.
IDF troops drill alongside US Marines as part of Juniper Cobra 2018​

IDF troops drill alongside US Marines as part of Juniper Cobra 2018​. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

The UN Human Rights Council may vote on Friday to call for UN member states to halt the sale of any arms to Israel that could be used to violate international human rights laws.

The draft text regarding a possible arms embargo will be brought up as part of five anti-Israel resolutions the council is expected to approve as it wraps up its month-long 37th session in Geneva on Friday.

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It can be found in the tail-end section of a resolution called “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem.”

It was sponsored by Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Jordan, Pakistan, Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority.

The resolution “calls upon” on states to take steps to ensure “that their public authorities and private entities do not become involved in internationally unlawful conduct, inter alia the provision of arms to end-users known or likely to use the arms in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian and/or human rights law.”

A similar resolution approved at this time last year did not mention arms sales to Israel or include any limitations on such sales.
Discussions between member states about the resolution were still ongoing on Thursday and changes to the text posted online since Monday can be made at any time prior to the Friday morning vote.

“It is another nasty resolution against Israel,” said former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker.

The resolution “calls upon the international community to prevent the sale of weapons or anything that can be used to violate human rights,” he said.

“I do not think it has any teeth,” said Baker who heads the International law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

“The human rights council has proved itself to be a body that has no credibility and is virulently anti-Israel,” said Baker.

Resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council are nonbinding, but the text of the resolutions often become part of what becomes acceptable dialogue on Israel through the UN system.

Sections of the “accountability” resolution also calls on states and business to boycott areas of Israel over the pre-1967 lines including the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

It warns that such activity could be considered criminal under international law.

The resolution against settlement activity makes a similar call and also takes Israel to task for its actions against Palestinians, including home demolitions and the detention of minors.

The resolution “speaks against the expropriation of Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian homes, demolition orders, forced evictions” and “relocation” plans, the obstruction and destruction of humanitarian assistance and the creation of a coercive environment and unbearable living conditions by Israel in areas identified for the expansion and construction of settlements.

Israel must end its “practices aimed at the forcible transfer of the Palestinian civilian population, including Beduin communities and herders, and further settlement activities, including the denial of access to water and other basic services by Israel to Palestinians,” the resolution states.

Member states will also be through the resolutions to disavow Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and to reject any Israeli attempts to annex the West Bank.

According to the settlements’ resolution, the Rights Council “expresses its grave concern at declarations by Israeli officials calling for the annexation of Palestinian land and reaffirms the prohibition of acquisition of territory resulting from the use of force.”

The 47 UNHRC member states will also be asked to denounce Israeli “acts of intimidation, threats and delegitimization directed at civil society actors and human rights defenders involved in documenting and countering violations of international law.”

The resolutions call for Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines and there is one resolution that is dedicated to demanding an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The United States is one of the 47 members of the UN Rights Council is expected to vote against all the resolutions.

Israel is the only against which the council has leveled so many resolutions in this session. There are two against Syria and one against Iran.

On Wednesday, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted that the “UN squanders valuable time scolding Israel instead of exposing real human rights abusers like Iran and Syria. This empty posturing has never brought peace and it never will.”


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