UN report says ‘perpetual occupation’ is ‘underlying root cause’ of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

A report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council says that Israel’s “perpetual occupation” of Palestinian areas and its refusal to end it underlie tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

The authors insist that ending the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since their capture by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in full compliance with Security Council resolutions of the United Nations, is essential to ending the “persistent cycle of violence”.

Israeli security forces take position during clashes with Palestinians following a protest against Israel’s annual nationalist march through Jerusalem, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, May 29, 2022. (AP Photo /Majdi Mohammed)

The report, released on June 7, is the first of a commission of inquiry led by former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay and two other Indian and Australian experts, set up the year latest following an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. This war has killed at least 261 people, including 67 children, in Gaza, and 14 people, including two children, in Israel.

The Commission is the first to have a “permanent” mandate from the UN human rights agency. This includes alleged human rights abuses before and after the war and investigating the “root causes” of tensions.

The report states: “What has become a situation of perpetual occupation was cited by Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders in the commission as the single common problem” which amounts to the “underlying root cause” of the recurring tensions, instability and protracted conflict. The evidence convincingly indicates that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation. Instead, it pursues “clear policies to ensure full control” over the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and takes steps to change demographics by creating an environment that is repressive for Palestinians and favorable to Israeli settlers. .

The Commission claims that Israel failed to respect international law and conventions relating to war and human rights and failed to follow previous UN recommendations. These include ending the occupation, ending settlement expansion, ending forced evictions, ending the policy of administrative detention, especially of children, lifting restrictions on freedom movements that fragment Palestinian society, including lifting the blockade of Gaza, allowing Palestinians access to their natural resources and eliminating discriminatory laws and practices against Palestinians, including road segregation for use exclusive to the Israeli population.

The committee accuses Israel of offering “different civil status, rights and legal protection” to Palestinians living in Israel, noting that Israel operates a three-tier system of laws granting different rights to Jewish Israeli citizens, Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. . He cites Israel’s Jewish People’s Nation-State Law (2018) as effectively constituting racial discrimination by granting nationality rights only to its Jewish citizens as opposed to Palestinian citizens and the recent renewal of a law that denies citizenship to Palestinians married to Israelis, calling for action to ensure equal human rights.

Last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s fragile coalition lost its slim majority and failed to secure the first reading of a bill renewing the legal civil rights of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The political bloc of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed it by trying to bring down the government. If the bill is not passed by the end of this month, Israeli settlers will be officially placed, like Palestinians, under military law and denied entry to Israel.

The report warns that “impunity” for perpetrators of violence is fueling resentment among Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It is an implicit indictment of Washington and the major European powers that have bolstered the Israeli military and provided political and diplomatic support, particularly to the UN Security Council where the US has opposed their veto of dozens of resolutions condemning Israel’s actions. The commission, it concludes, will examine the responsibilities of “third States to ensure respect for and full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in Israel and in the occupied Syrian Golan”.

The report will be discussed at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next week, which does not have the power to make legally binding decisions.

Predictably, Israel rejected the report. The Foreign Office called it a “waste of money and effort” that amounted to a witch hunt. Israel had boycotted the investigation, accusing it of bias, and barred entry to its investigators.

State Department spokesman Ned Price cynically reiterated U.S. opposition to the investigation, saying the report does nothing to assuage U.S. concerns about “a one-sided and biased approach that does not nothing to advance the prospects of peace”. The Trump administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 over what it described as its “chronic bias” against Israel, with the Biden administration only fully joining this year.

The global mainstream press did not see fit to comment on the UN report, including the champions of imperialist human rights intervention that New York Times and the Guardian. Their silence underscores the hypocrisy of the United States and NATO which claim to defend “democracy” in Ukraine while supporting an apartheid and militarist regime in Israel.

The commission’s report comes as Bennett’s coalition government, made up of parties from across the political spectrum, including those ostensibly supporting a small Palestinian state, unleashes a torrent of repression against Palestinians in the West Bank, including killings. and deliberate injuries, arbitrary arrests, torture, persecution and collective punishment. Last Wednesday and Thursday, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians across the West Bank in just 24 hours, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed this year to 62. Riot police and mounted units injured hundreds of protesters and arrested hundreds more as they cracked down on those protesting Israeli brutality and unbearable social conditions.

As far as Israel is concerned, no one is immune from its murderous activities. Last month, the Israeli army deliberately shot and killed Shireen Abu Akleh, the highly respected veteran Al Jazeera Arabic journalist, clearly visible and wearing a press ID. According to Reporters Without Borders, this brings to 35 the number of journalists killed while working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories occupied since 2000. The murder of Abu Akleh and the police attack on his funeral procession clearly show that ‘Israel will not tolerate reports of its brutal repression of the Palestinians.

Bennett gave orders to shoot Palestinians who pose no immediate threat and called for the formation of armed vigilante groups, based in part on civilian volunteers, including from the “New Hashomer” (The New Guardian ), a far-right militia.

The silence of the imperialist powers confirms the cynicism of their use of “human rights” rhetoric to justify wars, military interventions, coups, regime change operations, referral to the Criminal Court international community and sanctions against those who threaten their predatory interests.

The US and NATO have denounced Russia for ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine and China for committing ‘crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs’ based on unconfirmed or non-existent evidence . Washington’s support for Israel is linked to Tel Aviv’s role as an attack dog against its rivals in the region and its own policy of normalizing wars of conquest, occupation and repression. This means that the brutal methods used by Israel to repress the Palestinians will be used against the working class and youth who are revolting against the dictates of the ruling elites that put the pursuit of corporate profit before human needs.

Michael A. Bynum