The head of the UN panel that issued a one-sided report attacking Israel, has said publicly that the document could be “a kind of weapon for the Palestinians.”
French judge Christine Chanet said at a news conference that the Palestinians could use the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) report, if they wanted to, take their grievances before The Hague-based International Criminal Court.
The Palestine Liberation Organization has already announced it is planning such action and said the report, describing Israel’s settlements as “creeping annexation,” was “proof of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing” and its desire to undermine the possibility of a Palestinian state.
Israel has said the report is biased and UN Watch, a watchdog group based in Geneva, also denounced it saying, “The council report is categorically one-sided, casting Palestinians as the sole victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict, while denying the slightest consideration to any basic human rights for Israelis.”
The HRC report says Israel is violating international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention, since the Israeli government is persisting in building settlements in territories claimed by Palestinians for a future state, including east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, “despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation.”
The settlements are “a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” the report concludes.
The report’s conclusions are not legally binding and Chanet complained that Israel did not cooperate with her investigation.
The panel went to Jordan to interview more than 50 people on the impact of the settlements, reporting violence by Jewish settlers, confiscation of land and damage to olive groves.
Pakistani attorney Asma Jahangir, a mwember of the panel, said the settlements “seriously impinge on the self-determination of the Palestinian people.”
More than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in Judea and Samaria and in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians wish to make their capital. “All the Israeli settlement activities are illegal and considered to be war crimes according to the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention. This means that Israel is liable to prosecution,” said PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi. The settlements, according to her, are “clearly a form of forced transfer and a proof of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry accused the council of taking a systematically one-sided and biased approach toward Israel, with the report being merely “another unfortunate reminder” of that bias.
In a statement, Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director, said he was astonished that the report members had decided to ignore a 54-page document with 257 footnotes sent to them by his organization.
“The report disregards the thousands of suicide bombings, knifings, and other terrorist attacks committed by Palestinian Arab groups, failing to acknowledge how this violence brought about Israeli security measures in the territories that did not previously exist,” he said.
“The reality is that the HRC’s fact-finding enterprise is dedicated chiefly to attacking but one country: Israel. In the entire history of the HRC, there have been seven one-sided inquiry missions on Israel, and only five on the rest of the world combined. Mass atrocities committed by Iran, China, or Sri Lanka, for example, have never been subjected to a single HRC inquiry.
“In a week when the UN legitimized genocidal Sudan, by electing the regime as vice-president of a top human rights body, it is now focusing its scarce time, resources and moral outrage on yet another biased, politicized and one-sided report against Israel.”