Pillay rebukes Israel, Palestinians

UNHRC chief: Both sides failed to investigate selves as per Goldstone report.

A top UN official has rebuked both Israel and the Palestinians for failing to carry out independent investigations into human rights abuses in Gaza in the winter of 2009, as demanded by the Goldstone Report.
With regard to Palestinian efforts, “At this point, there is no indication of credible investigations having taken place,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrote in a report she plans to deliver this week to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In the text, submitted in writing on Thursday, she noted the Palestinian Authority’s creation of a five-member independent committee as well as the two committees formed by the “de facto authorities in Gaza.”
But, she said, “the late launching of these initiatives brings into question the commitment of responsible Palestinian authorities to satisfying the criterion that a remedy be prompt.”
With respect to Israel’s efforts, she said that neither the army’s “criminal or command investigations are adequate.”
She added, “All of the command investigations, special and ordinary, appear to rely predominantly if not exclusively on information provided by those potentially implicated in the violations. They do not appear to meet the standards required for practical independence.”
Pillay’s 23-page report, which also deals with the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is just one of a number of issues with respect to this area that the Human Rights Council will take up this week.
Starting on Monday, it will also debate four resolutions on the Palestinians territories and Israel, including one that calls for the creation of an independent committee to assess Israeli and Palestinian efforts to comply with the UN demand for independent investigations.
This committee of independent experts to be appointed by Pillay would “monitor and assess any domestic, legal and other proceedings undertaken by both the government of Israel and the Palestinian side.”
The Goldstone Report, which was submitted to the council and endorsed by it in October, said that Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza. It also called for the release of St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who has been held in Gaza by Hamas since June 2006.
Schalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, plan to fly to Geneva on Sunday, to address the council this week and meet with Pillay. In both instances they plan to express their disappointment that neither she nor the council have focused on the continued captivity of their son when examining compliance with the Goldstone Report’s conclusions.
Also this week, the Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit plans to release a video that morphs the young man’s face into that of IDF navigator Ron Arad, who was taken captive in Lebanon in 1986 and disappeared in 1988.
The council, starting on Monday, will also debate a resolution that affirms the Palestinian right to self-determination and two others that chastise Israel as part of the work of the council’s 13th session taking place this month.
The long list of grievances in the two resolutions include construction of the West Bank security barrier and Jewish building in both in east Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria.
The resolutions list the plans underway for the construction of 1,600 new homes in the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, as well the Defense Ministry decision earlier this month unfreeze the building of 120 homes in the Betar Illit settlement. Work on those 120 apartment units had been stopped as a result of the 10-month moratorium on settlement housing starts.
In addition, the resolutions chastise Israel for its planned construction in the vicinity of the Adam settlement, which it believes “constitutes a new settlement block.”
They also express concern over plans to build in a section of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement known as E-1, even though those plans have yet to be approved.
The resolutions also contest plans for a “tramway between west Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev,” a reference to the Jerusalem light rail project and Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, which is over the Green Line but not considered a settlement by the government.
The resolutions condemn Israel’s decision to “add Al-Harem al-Ibrahimi [the Cave of the Patriarchs] in Hebron and Bilal Mosque [Rachel’s Tomb] in Bethlehem and the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem to their list of national heritage sites.”
They demand that Israel “cease all digging and excavation work beneath and around the Aksa Mosque compound [the Temple Mount] and other religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The resolutions “call for immediate international protections for the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory” as well as the “immediate cessation of all Israeli military attacks and operations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.”
They ask Israel to stop any “new settlers” from moving into homes in Judea and Samaria as well as in east Jerusalem.
In addition, they ask Israel to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem and to lift IDF checkpoints.
The resolutions calls on Israel to fully open its borders to Gaza, andstates that the continued closures of these crossings to all buthumanitarian aid constitutes “collective punishment.”
According to the non-governmental group UN Watch, since its inceptionin 2006, the UN Human Rights Council has issued 33 country censureresolutions against countries, of which 27 have been against Israel.
The Foreign Ministry had no formal response to the upcoming events at the Human Rights Council this week.