South Africa to UNHRC: Israeli annexation excuse for ethnic cleansing

The South African envoy also warned that the move would have "devastating consequences for Palestinian communities."

Overview of the UN Human Rights Council during a debate at the United Nations in Geneva (photo credit: REUTERS)
Overview of the UN Human Rights Council during a debate at the United Nations in Geneva
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli plans to annex West Bank settlements is an excuse for Israel to ethnically cleanse the area, South Africa warned the UN Human Rights Council on Monday during its 42nd session in Geneva.
South Africa is concerned that the annexation of Palestinian territory is highly likely in the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley – selected because of their low population density with potential for ethnic cleansing,” South African envoy Clinton Gary Swemmer said. “What started in east Jerusalem is going to spread unannounced and without an outcry, but with devastating consequences for Palestinian communities that will be left utterly defenseless and without residents.”
Arab countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Ehypt all spoke out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex West Bank settlements staring with the Jordan Valley should he form a new government.
Settlers and right-wing Israelis have welcomed the announcement, made in advanced of the pending publication of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
But at the UNHRC, Arab States warned it would have devastating consequences and pledged their support for a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines.
“This is a fragrant breach of the UN Charter, international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Qatar’s envoy Ali Khalfan Al-Mansouri said. “It further undermines the political process and the two state solution as well as spreading violence, chaos and instability inn the whole region in the Middle East. We call on the international community to uphold its moral and legal responsibility by proving international protection for the Palestinian people.”
The Qatari envoy also called on Israel to stop “Judaizing Jerusalem” and for a boycott of settlement products, saying there is “no excuse” for the delay in the publication of the black list, which the council agreed to publish in 2016.
PLO Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi took issue with statements made by Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians against Israeli-Arabs during the election campaign that ended on September 17.
“You may have followed the recent Israeli elections campaign, which included racist hate speech against Palestinians, including a statement by the racist Israeli Prime Minister who wrote a post against Arabs claiming that women, children and older Palestinians plan to exterminate us,” Khraishi said. “This is added to the racist statements issued by various racist Zionist political parties.”
He spoke during an Agenda Item 7 debate. The UNHRC is mandated to hold a debate on alleged Israeli human rights violations during each of its meetings, which occur three times a year. Human rights violations committed by all other countries around the globe, are all debated under Agenda Item 4. Israel, whose actions are debated under Agenda Item 7, is the only country for which there is such a standing mandate.
Israel boycotts the Agenda Item 7 debates and has called on all other countries to do so as well. It has urged that all human rights complaints against it to be dealt with under Agenda Item 4.
On Monday, none of the EU members states participated in the debate. Western countries also refrained from speaking.
“It is regrettable that some states still give in to the threats and justifications given by Israel and the US to not participate in the debate on this agenda item, addressing gross violations committed by Israel the occupying power,” Khraishi said. “This behavior only encourages Israel to continue its illegal practices.”
Khraishi took issue with a wide array of Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza, including its response to Palestinian rioters at the Gaza border, annexation talk, arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, the security barrier and the withholding of terror funds.