UNHRC draft resolution slams Israel

UNHRC draft resolution s

Palestinians expect the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to pass a five-page draft resolution denouncing Israeli human rights violations in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza when the matter comes to a vote on Friday. The document was submitted to the council by Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia in advance of a two-day special session that opens Thursday on Israeli actions in east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. The bulk of the session will deal with the Goldstone Report, which condemned Israeli military action in Gaza last winter. The resolution makes no mention of Palestinian violence against Israelis, such as the eight years of rocket attacks from Gaza against southern border communities. PLO Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi told The Jerusalem Post that there were enough votes in the council to endorse the resolution and move it on to New York, where it would carry more weight. Khraishi said Palestinians were keen to use international law to stop the "occupation," which has led to grave "violations of human rights." He spoke as the report was given a hearing at the UN Security Council in New York and in advance of Thursday's debate on the document at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. "[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu has said that he won't allow a special session [of the Human Rights Council] and that he will not allow the resolution to pass," said Khraishi. "The world is not going according to Netanyahu." Wednesday's Security Council debate did not lead to any action on the council's part. But the Human Rights Council is expected to ask the UN General Assembly and the Security Council to act on the report. Two weeks ago, the Palestinians had looked to court Western countries by toning down the text, and even agreed to defer the matter until March in hopes of gaining the support of the US and European countries. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was sharply attacked in the Arab world for caving to what many believed was pressure from the United States and the West to delay the vote. In response, the Palestinians called for a special session of the Human Rights Council on the report, which had been compiled by a four-person fact finding mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. On Wednesday, with the help of countries that included Egypt, the Palestinians submitted a resolution that had a longer list of charges than the original resolution. Two of the new pages were devoted to the situation in east Jerusalem. The resolution condemned "the confiscation of Palestinian lands and properties" there. It also condemned "the construction and expansion of settlements, the continuous construction of the separation wall, changing the demographic and geographic character of east Jerusalem, the restrictions on the freedom of movement and the Palestinian citizens of east Jerusalem, as well as the continuous digging and excavation works in and around al-Aksa Mosque and its vicinity." It asked the UN high commissioner for human rights to report on Israeli actions in and around the area. The resolution also asked the 47 member states of the council to recognize that "the Israeli siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, including its closure of border crossings and the cutting of the supply of fuel, food and medicine, constitutes collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and leads to disastrous humanitarian and environmental consequences." Finally, the resolution called on the council to endorse the Goldstone Report and its recommendations, which would open the door for Israelis to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. According to sources, the European countries on the UN Human Rights Council are expected to abstain from the vote, and the United States is expected to oppose the resolution. During Wednesday's preparatory session for Thursday's Geneva meeting, a number of European countries said that while they supported the Goldstone Report, they were concerned by the one-sided nature of the resolution, according to notes of the meeting provided to the Post by UN Watch. The United States said it wanted a more balanced outcome. Sweden said that while the report should be treated seriously, it would have preferred a more narrowly crafted resolution. In particular, it said, it was uneasy with the insertion of the words "siege" and "collective punishment" to describe Israeli actions in Gaza. Sweden holds the presidency of the European Union, but is not one of the 47 member states that have voting rights on the council. Over the past few days, President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been lobbying world leaders to prevent advancement of the report, which they have said is biased and flawed. One of their messages is that acceptance of the Goldstone Report would deal a blow to the diplomatic process, since Israel would not take further risks for peace if it were not assured that it had international legitimacy to act in self-defense. It's a message that upsets Khraishi, who wants to know what peace they mean. It's Israeli violations against Palestinians that is stopping the peace process from moving forward, he said. Two weeks ago, in a conciliatory gesture, the Palestinians agreed to defer UN action on the report, said Khraishi. In response, Israel cracked down on Palestinians in east Jerusalem. The deferral gave Israelis the message that they could continue to harm Palestinians and violate humanitarian law, he said. Netanyahu, he added, wants the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, "while he is killing our people." Israel's continual onslaught against the Palestinians is not the way to create a two-state solution, he said, adding that peace would happen when Israelis observed international law. Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Goldstone on Wednesday to dissociate himself from the report based on his admission in an interview with the American Jewish paper The Forward that that it was not a full investigation and "if this was a court of law, nothing would be proven."