U.N. Human Rights Council set to condemn Israel for Golan 'occupation'

It is one of five anti-Israel resolutions the UNHRC is set to debate on Monday and will vote on toward the end of the week.

March 15, 2019 04:11
3 minute read.
U.N. Human Rights Council set to condemn Israel for Golan 'occupation'

A MAN stands at Mount Bental, an observation post on the Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, on January 21.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to condemn Israel’s “occupation” of the Golan Heights next week in Geneva as it wraps up its month-long 40th session.

The resolution was submitted by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It recalled UN Security Council Resolution 497 from 1981, which rejected Israel’s annexation of the Golan.

Israel’s decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect,” and the 1981 resolution “demanded that Israel rescind forthwith its decision,” the new resolution states.

It is one of five anti-Israel resolutions the UNHRC is set to debate on Monday and will vote on toward the end of the week.

The council annually condemns Israel’s annexation of the Golan, which it captured from Syria in 1967 during the Six Day War.

But this year’s vote comes in the midst of a renewed Israeli push to sway the United States to recognize that annexation. Political pundits have speculated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like US President Donald Trump to do so in advance of the April 9 election as a way of ensuring Netanyahu’s success at the ballot box.

It’s a move that has the support of prominent US Republicans. In February, senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) filed a Congressional bill that calls on the United States to recognize the Golan.

On Monday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham visited the Golan with Netanyahu and vowed to push the Trump administration to recognize it as part of sovereign Israel.

On Wednesday, the US State Department stopped calling the Golan “occupied” territory and instead referred to it as Israeli “controlled.”

The linguistic change was brought to light when Washington published its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. That report for the first time omitted the use of the word “occupied” in referencing the Golan.

It did so just after the IDF reported that Hezbollah had expanded its area of confrontation with Israel and had expanded its military activity in Syria in order to open a new front against Israel on the Golan.

Cruz, Cotton and Gallagher said on Wednesday that: “Iran and Hezbollah have deployed fighters and terrorists, including those with American blood on their hands, to deepen their hold over the region.” This refers to the unmasking of Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah operative believed to be responsible for the 2007 abduction and execution of five American servicemen in Iraq.

“This aggression highlights the need for the United States to affirm Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the congressmen continued. “Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and terror tunnels pose severe threats to the State of Israel.

“To support Israel’s right to self-defense, both houses of Congress should take up our legislation establishing that it shall be the policy of the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.”

The Palestinian Authority has opposed the elimination of the word “occupation” in the report, which similarly no longer refers to the West Bank and Gaza as occupied. Israel has not annexed the West Bank, which has been under its military control since 1967. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused the US of trying to “whitewash the occupation.”

The US wants to “exonerate Israel from its indisputable human rights violations, while deliberately attempting to depict the racist policies and attitudes of the Israeli government as benign, despite the fact that they deny the Palestinian people’s humanity, nationality and narrative,” Ashrawi said.

“The legal and political standing of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights as territory under Israeli occupation is indisputable under international law,” she said. “The Trump administration has spared no effort to reassert its destabilizing role and hostile agenda in the region in collusion with Israel.

“It is futile to engage with such disruptive actors, especially given their aversion to facts and their demonstrable hostility to the Palestinian people’s national and human rights,” she said.

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