Jerusalem24– The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, issued its first report yesterday in which it identifies Israel’s “continued occupation of Palestinian territory and discrimination against Palestinians” as the key root causes of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
“Israel clearly has no intention of ending the occupation. In fact, it has established clear policies to ensure complete permanent control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” said Commissioner Chris Sidoti in a press release.
Chair of the Commission Navanethem Pillay said in the same press release, “The findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, which we have taken as an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one State occupying the other.”
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed the report as “biased” and “tainted with hatred for the State of Israel” in a statement issued this morning, which further claims that the Commission members were elected to office “only because of their public and well-known anti-Israel stance.”
The US Department of State also issued a statement characterizing the Commission of Inquiry as “a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel” and saying the report “did not advance the goals” of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Israel has long argued it is unfairly singled out and targeted by human rights organization as well as the UN for its violations against Palestinians.
“Culture of impunity”
The report says the “overarching issues” it identified are “Israel’s failure to uphold the laws and customs of war, including those of belligerent occupation, violations and abuses of individual and collective rights, and a lack of accountability.”
The report lists forced displacement, threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence, and the blockade of Gaza as factors contributing to the violence.
Sidoti said that Israeli policies aiming at ensuring “complete permanent control” over Palestine include “altering the demography of these territories through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favorable environment for Israeli settlers.”
“Israel’s policies and actions build Palestinian frustration and lead to a sense of despair.” – Commissioner Chris Sidoti
Pillay said that a lack of implementation of previous recommendations “coupled with a sense of impunity, clear evidence that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, and the persistent discrimination against Palestinians, [lie] at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations” across Palestine.
The report also identifies a lack of accountability concerning the Palestinian Authority’s human rights violations, specifically mentioning the case of outspoken government critic Nizar Banat who was killed in PA security forces’ custody in June 2021.
The report also notes that “the Palestinian Authority frequently uses the occupation as a justification for its own human rights violations and as the core reason for its failure to hold legislative and presidential elections.”
Towards State, corporate, and individual responsibility
The Commission will present its findings at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council on 13 June, and to the UN General Assembly in September 2022.
The UN Human Rights Council mandated the Commission on 27 May 2021 to “investigate […] all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Palestine and Israel.
The Commission released the 18-page report after conducting an assessment of recommendations made by previous Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-Finding Missions, as well as other UN mechanisms and its own hearings.
The report concludes by laying out that the Commission will conduct investigations and legal analysis into alleged violations and abuses, and will work with judicial accountability mechanisms toward ensuring individual, State and corporate accountability. It will also assess the responsibilities of third States and private actors in the continued policies of occupation.
Commissioner Miloon Kothari said in the Commission press release, “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.”