UN human rights probe into Israel issues 2nd report, calls to prosecute Israelis

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Then-UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay speaks during a press conference in Rabat, Morocco, on May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Schemm, File)
Then-UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay speaks during a press conference in Rabat, Morocco, on May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Schemm, File)

The UN Commission of Inquiry investigating rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip releases its second report, calling on the Security Council to end Israel’s “permanent occupation,” and calling on individual UN member states to prosecute Israeli officials.

The 28-page report, which will be presented to the General Assembly on October 27, accuses Israel of violating international law by making its control over the West Bank permanent, and by annexing land claimed by the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Syrian land in the Golan Heights.

“Actions by Israel constituting de facto annexation include expropriating land and natural resources, establishing settlements and outposts, maintaining a restrictive and discriminatory planning and building regime for Palestinians and extending Israeli law extraterritorially to Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” reads the report.

It also accuses Israel of discriminatory policies against Arab citizens, of stealing natural resources, and of gender-based violence against Palestinian women.

The authors request an urgent advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice “on the legal consequences of the continued refusal on the part of Israel to end its occupation,” and an investigation from the International Criminal Court prosecutor.

The report does not mention the words “Hamas,” “rockets,” or “terrorism.”

Israel’s mission to Geneva rejects the report, saying: “Commissioners who made antisemitic comments and who proactively engaged in anti-Israel activism, both before and after their appointment, have no legitimacy nor credibility in addressing the issue at hand.”

The embassy adds that the report damages the UN’s credibility and its human rights mechanisms.

Israel has refused to cooperate with the commission and has not granted it entry into Israel or access to Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank and Gaza.

The probe was triggered during a special session of the council in May 2021 — following fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip — when the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Former United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay heads the open-ended inquiry, joined by Miloon Kothari of India, the first UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, and Australian international human rights law expert Chris Sidoti.

Kothari triggered outrage for using the term “Jewish lobby” and for questioning whether Israel should be a member of the UN, sparking Israeli accusations of antisemitism and calls for his resignation.

International Legal Forum CEO Arsen Ostrovsky calls on the US to defund the commission and deny visa entry to its members next week.

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