Palestinians to U.N. states: ‘Don’t let settlers enter your country’

“Practical measures are needed against the settlers, including preventing them from entering your country,” Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said.

Vehicles drive on Highway 443 past the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Horon (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Vehicles drive on Highway 443 past the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Horon
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
United Nations member states should deny Israeli settlers entry to their countries, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the UN Human Rights Council at the opening of its 37th session in Geneva this week.
The international community must do more to “confront the Israeli colonial settlement system” in the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem and the West Bank, Maliki said.
He called on the council to fully publish its so-called “blacklist” of companies doing business with the settlements.
The UNHRC announced last month that publication of the corporate database, originally scheduled for December 2017, had been delayed. No new date for publication has been set.
Maliki told the council that trade prohibitions with Israeli-controlled areas over pre-1967 border lines  was not enough.
“Practical measures are needed against the settlers, including preventing them from entering your country,” Maliki said.
He also called for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state as part of a multilateral peace process, rather than one solely brokered by the United States.
The foreign minister also condemned Israel’s attempt to tax church property in east Jerusalem as a “dangerous precedent” and a “grave violation of international law.”
He spoke too against the Trump administration’s plan to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 to coincide with Israel’s celebration of its 70th anniversary.
The move will take place on the eve of what is known as Nakba day on May 15, “the day of the catastrophe,” when Palestinians commemorate the date in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their communities.
The embassy relocation and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he warned, will only encourage the Israeli government to continue violating the rights of Palestinians.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, did not dominate opening speeches delivered Monday through Wednesday by UN member and non-member states.
Still, the council is likely to pass at least five resolutions against Israel this session, more than against any other single country.
The US on Wednesday slammed the UNHRC for its biased treatment of Israel.
“It is unacceptable that the HRC treats Israel differently from every other UN member,” US Ambassador Mary Catherine Phee said.
“The institutional integrity of the Council demands that the efforts to delegitimize and isolate Israel through such blatant bias must end,” Phee told the council at the start of its session, which is scheduled to end March 23.
Phee took issue with UNHRC Agenda 7 mandates that say Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank must be debated at each session and that a permanent investigator must be assigned to investigate such abuses.
No other country has such a permanent mandate. All global human rights abuses are debated under Agenda Item 4, including those in Syria and Iran. None of the countries which are considered to be serial human rights abusers have a permanent investigator assigned to them. Such investigators have only temporary mandates that must be renewed.
“When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from scrutiny, including Israel,” said Phee, who is the acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Organizations. Israel, Phee told the council, must be held to an equitable standard that would apply to any other country.
“The charter itself says the UN organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members. That is not the case when the special rapporteur’s mandate on the occupied Palestinian territories – unlike every other Council mandate – never requires renewal,” Phee said.
The current session’s Agenda Item 4 debate is scheduled for March 14 and the Agenda Item 7 debate is slated for March 19.
Maliki said that Agenda Item 7 was necessary as long as the “occupation” existed so that Israel could be held accountable for its actions.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aviva Raz Shechter blamed Palestinian antisemitism for the persistent attacks against Israel, which she noted is the only democracy in the Middle East.
“It’s time to see the constant discrimination of Israel in this council – by the resolutions that pass by an automatic majority – as stemming out of deeper reasons. Listen to the incitement in the Palestinian territories, nurturing the younger generations with hatred and antisemitic feelings,” Shechter said.
“While antisemitism is raising its ugly head in many countries, the reports and resolutions that are aimed at the creation of databases, boycott and divestment are yet another manifestation of the bias against the Jewish state. Let us acknowledge this shameful reality in this council and say ‘Enough is enough,’” Shechter said.
She brought with her to the council Zehava Shaul, the mother of Oron Shaul, one of two soldiers presumed to have been killed in the 2014 war in Gaza. It is believed that Hamas is holding their bodies along with three Israeli citizens whom it has since kidnapped.
Shechter called upon the body to help Israel secure the release of the bodies and its citizens.
“We call today upon the international community to fulfill its duty and responsibility and pressure Hamas until this unacceptable and cruel abuse of human rights comes to its end,” she said. “Mrs. Shaul deserves to have an end and closure to this inhumane uncertainty and suffering.”