Greenblatt, Friedman violated laws of war in Jerusalem, PA tells UNHRC

Syrian envoy says country has right to recover the Golan Heights from Israel

July 8, 2019 18:27
4 minute read.
Greenblatt, Friedman violated laws of war in Jerusalem, PA tells UNHRC

Sara Netanyahu, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman tour Pilgrimage Road . (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

US envoys Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman violated the Fourth Geneva Convention when they participated in the ceremony marking the opening of the biblical Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi said on Monday.

The ancient road runs underneath the homes in the east Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Silwan and extends to the Temple Mount.
“We have sent to you a video of the American ambassador for the settlers Friedman, and his emissary Greenblatt, carrying the shovels and participating in digging a tunnel under the village of Silwan near the Aksa Mosque, which constitutes a dangerous precedent and a grave violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Khraishi said. He spoke at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, which began on June 24 and ends this week.

“The shovels of American ambassadors tried to destroy the international legal system,” Khraishi said. He warned that US peace efforts would fail unless the Trump administration protects human rights, respects international legal obligations and enforces international legitimacy.

Khraishi took a swipe at the administration’s economic workshop held last month in Bahrain to help boost the Palestinian economy, calling it a “fake event.”

The “occupying power,” he said, is continuing with its “Judaizing Jerusalem,” and “withdrawing the identities of its population.”
Syrian Ambassador to the UNHRC Hussam Edin Aala called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, and swore that his country had a right to “recover” that territory from Israel.

“We demand accountability and we call for impunity to be combated,” Aala said. “We condemn the decision of the Trump administration which is illegal, regarding the occupied Golan.” In doing so, the US has also “flouted” UN Security Council resolutions, he added.

“We need to put an end to the actions of the occupation,” which is “confiscating” land and “pillaging” resources, Aala said, adding that Syria opposes the Israeli government practice to hold meetings on the Golan, and its decision to create a new town named for US President Donald Trump.

Such steps, Aala said, are “provocative.” The US has encouraged the “occupying power to perpetrate further war crimes” by flouting UN organs that carry out field investigations, he added.

“Our country in no way recognizes any of the administrative measures taken by the Israeli occupying power in the Syrian Golan,” the ambassador said.

Syria “reiterates that the sovereign right to recover the occupied Syrian Golan up to the line of June 4, 1967, is an inalienable right and it cannot be in any way restricted,” he said.

Syria also calls on Israel to withdraw from the “occupied Lebanese territories,” Aala said.

He represented one of many countries at the UNHRC who called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to publish a data base on companies doing business with entities located over the pre-1967 lines.

ON MONDAY, the UNHRC held its mandatory debate on Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians under Agenda Item 7. The international body is obligated to hold the debate at every session. No other country has such a standing agenda item, and all other allegations of human rights abuses against a single country are debated under Agenda Item 4.

Israel and the United States have long pushed to abolish Agenda Item 7, and for any allegations of Israeli human rights abuses to be dealt with under Item 4.

The issue has gained traction among Western countries. Some 48 UN member states spoke under Agenda Item 7, none of which were Western states, many of whom increasingly object to it.

Khraishi spoke of the importance of Agenda Item 7, explaining that it was a necessary tool to fight Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territory, including in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“It is regrettable that some are still subject to Israel’s wishes and do not participate in this item to address the blatant violations of the occupying power, which further encourages Israel to continue its unlawful practices,” Khraishi said. This includes, he said, the adoption of more than 50 racist laws within sovereign Israel that “systematically violate the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous Palestinian Muslims, Christians and Druze, and even discriminate between Jews themselves.”

Aala was one of a number of speakers at the UNHRC Agenda 7 debate, which spoke against Israeli sovereignty on the Golan and in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the pre-1967 lines. Israel captured the Golan Heights during the 1967 war and annexed it in 1981. This year, the Trump administration recognized its sovereignty there, explaining that the territory is vital for Israel’s security.

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