An Arab Israeli delegation met in Amman, Jordan with the United Nations team tasked with investing human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The delegation, led by former Hadash party leader Mohammad Barakeh and lawyers from the Adalah legal rights group, met UN officials in Jordan as Israel refuses to allow them into Israel to carry out the investigation.
“There can be no just and rational dealing with a regime based on racial discrimination along ethnic lines,” said Adalah attorney Hassan Jabarin, who presented the group’s findings to UN investigator Navi Pillay and her staff on Thursday.
The commission of inquiry Pillay is leading was created during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council held last May to discuss the 11-day Hamas-Israel war that month, which killed 260 Palestinians and 13 people on the Israeli side.
It was tasked with looking beyond that surge in violence and to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
While the council has ordered eight previous investigations into rights violations in the region, this was the first open-ended probe, and the first to examine “root causes” in the drawn-out conflict.
According to Barakeh, who leads the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens — a body that purports to represent all the political players in Arab Israeli society — this is the first UN probe that will examine the legal status of Arab Israelis, rather than Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel has sharply criticized the probe and accused of Pillay of systemic bias against the Jewish state.
“[The commission members] have repeatedly taken public and hostile positions against Israel on the very subject matter that they are called upon to ‘independently and impartially’ investigate,” wrote Israel’s envoy to Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar.
In a May 2021 lecture, Pillay described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as “inhuman” and compared Israel to apartheid South Africa.
And while serving as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights she said that the Israeli government treats international law “with perpetual disdain.”
Delegation leader Barakeh dismissed the criticisms and accused Israel of seeking to evade accountability.
“The fact that Israel refuses to cooperate with this committee says a lot. It indicates that it is afraid of its actions and knows that it is violating all international and humanitarian values,” Barakeh said in a statement.
AFP contributed to this report.