RAMALLAH: Israel’s occupation and discrimination against Palestinians are the main causes of “persistent cycles of violence,” a UN report said on Tuesday.
A team of investigators appointed last year by the UN Human Rights Council to examine “all underlying root causes” of the Israel-Palestine conflict said Israel clearly had “no intention” of ending its occupation of Palestinian land.
Previous UN recommendations had been “overwhelmingly directed toward Israel,” which was “an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one state occupying the other,” said lead investigator Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief from South Africa.
These recommendations “have overwhelmingly not been implemented,” she said. “It is this lack of implementation coupled with a sense of impunity, clear evidence that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, and the persistent discrimination against Palestinians that lies at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.”
However, the 18-page report concluded that “ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient,” and urgedadditional action to ensure that human rights are equally applied. An Israeli law that denied naturalization to Palestinians married to Israelis was an example of Israel giving “different civil status, rights and legal protection” to Arab minorities, the report said.
The UN created the Commission of Inquiry last year after Israel’s 11-day war on Gaza in May 2021, which killed 260 Palestinians. Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation, and on Tuesday its foreign ministry said it was “a witch hunt” and the report was “one sided.”
However, Palestinian Authority spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Arab News any international investigation and report that condemned Israel and demanded punishment was “welcome.”
He said: “We call on the UN to move from blame and hold Israel accountable, to impose sanctions on Israel, and not allow it to go unpunished for the crimes it has committed against the Palestinians. Israel feels impunity, and lack of prosecution and accountability and not imposing sanctions on it means that other crimes will be committed.”
Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative Party said: “This report means the beginning of the end of the Israeli apartheid regime, because it is no longer possible for any supporter of Israel to be able to defend it.”
Ammar Hijazi, a diplomat at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Reports and statements are no longer sufficient in the face of the massive crimes of Israeli racial discrimination committed against the Palestinians, and effective practical steps must be taken to end the injustice that befalls the Palestinian people. I do not want a thousand reports, but one step in the direction of stopping the repression and ending the occupation.”
The UN investigators obtained some information for their report from thye Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq. “The mandate given to them by the Human Rights Council to be a permanent committee searching for the roots of the problem and not for a specific period is unparalleled,” Al-Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin told Arab News.
“For the first time, a committee has been formed whose mission is to research the violations and racial discrimination that occur inside Israel. The three members of the committee have long experience in researching violations of human rights and international law at the international level.
“This is an important international report … and it represents and constitutes a moral victory for the Palestinians. It focused on the absence of accountability of Israel for the crimes it committed against the Palestinians. The report is not the end of the road, and the committee will have a major role in transferring its reports to the ICC.”