UN probe blames Israel for perpetuating conflict with Palestinians

Member of open-ended Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry says ‘ending occupation’ will break cycle of violence; Israel calls report ‘waste of money’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

An Israeli soldier draws his weapon as mourners attending the funeral for Auda Sadaqa, 17, react at a checkpoint in the West Bank village of Al-Madiya near Ramallah, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP/ Majdi Mohammed)
An Israeli soldier draws his weapon as mourners attending the funeral for Auda Sadaqa, 17, react at a checkpoint in the West Bank village of Al-Madiya near Ramallah, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP/ Majdi Mohammed)

A report released Tuesday by a United Nations Commission of Inquiry blamed Israel’s “persistent discrimination against Palestinians” for violence between the two sides.

“Forced displacement, threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence, and the blockade of Gaza” were identified as “contributing factors to recurring cycles of violence” by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.

The 18-page report, released Tuesday, focuses on root causes of the conflict. The commission took two trips to research the report, one to Geneva and the other to Jordan.

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 report reaffirmed that the UN sees Israeli settlements as illegal, including in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

It also blasted Israel for restrictions on Palestinian movement, and for settler violence. Israel destroys Palestinian water infrastructure, alleged the commission, and tries to silence critical voices in Palestinian civil society.

Israeli security forces keep watch as Palestinians wait to have their IDs checked to reach the city of Jerusalem to attend Ramadan prayers in the al-Aqsa mosque on April 8, 2022, at a checkpoint in Bethlehem in the West Bank. (Hazem Bader/AFP).

“Harassment and abuse of Palestinian women and girls by the Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been reported at checkpoints and on the way to and from school and work,” charged the report.

“Ending Israel’s occupation, in full conformity with Security Council resolutions, remains essential in stopping the persistent cycle of violence,” said Commissioner Miloon Kothari in a statement released by the UN Human Rights Council. “It is only with the ending of occupation that the world can begin to reverse historical injustices and move towards self-determination of the Palestinian peoples.”

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, plans to address the UN on the ongoing crisis in Syria. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar flash90)
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as “nothing more than a waste of money and effort of the United Nations’ systems, part and parcel of the witch hunt being carried out by the Human Rights Council against Israel.”

In a statement, the ministry called it a “biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel.”

Hamas supporters wave green Islamic flags while raise their hands up and chant slogans during a rally in solidarity with Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Jerusalem, at the main road of Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Israeli statement also alleged that the panel’s three commissioners were selected only because of their public anti-Israel stances.

Though the report placed the lion’s share of blame on Israel, it also pointed a finger at the Palestinian Authority for its own human rights violations and failure to hold elections, and at Hamas for showing little regard for human rights.

The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council session on June 13.

In a statement, the US State Department called the commission “a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.”

“The report of the Commission, released today, does nothing to alleviate our concerns,” the statement added, calling it “a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel.”

Others also criticized the commission and its report.

“The report devotes only a few paragraphs out of 18 pages to violations by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups,” said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Adviser and UN representative. “Similarly, the report attacks foundational policies of Israel, making multiple false claims regarding discrimination in order to build a case of racism and so that this permanent [commission of inquiry] can later accuse Israel of apartheid.”

She accused the panel of operating under secrecy, without revealing who is writing the reports for the commission and how the three commissioners were selected.

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.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjartoon visit a home in the central city of Petah Tikva that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza during the Israeli military’s ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls,’ June 1, 2021. (Courtesy)

The probe was triggered during a special session of the council on May 27 — 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.

“Never before in the history of the UN’s unrelenting assault on Israel, has a report been so biased, one-sided and utterly contravene the UN’s own Rules and Guidelines,” said Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of The International Legal Forum.

“This report effectively gives a green light to Palestinian terror, while denying Israel its inalienable right to self-defense,” he continued.

The commission is slated to report to the Human Rights Council each year, starting next week.

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