The U.N. Human Rights Council’s open-ended Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Israel released its first report to the General Assembly on Thursday, deeming the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria illegal under international law.
The report found what it called the “occupation” to be illegal “due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies,” according to a statement released along with the document.
“Recent statements by the Secretary-General and numerous member States have clearly indicated that any attempt at unilateral annexation of a State’s territory by another State is a violation of international law and is null and void; 143 member States including Israel last week voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution reaffirming this,” stated Navi Pillay, chair of the commission.
According to the U.N., the COI’s review was based on “interviews with experts and stakeholders, and submissions received following a call for submissions.”
“By ignoring international law in establishing or facilitating the establishment of settlements, and directly or indirectly transferring Israeli civilians into these settlements, successive Israel governments have set facts on the ground to ensure permanent Israeli control in the West Bank,” Pillay continued.
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, told JNS that the commission was set up to find Israel guilty.
“It was staffed by individuals that already said Israel was guilty before they got the job and then then, surprise, they find Israel guilty,” she said.
Bayefsky called it a deliberate attempt to demonize and destroy the Jewish state.
“That’s what it intended to do. That’s what the Human Rights Council members who voted for it intended it to be. That’s why they picked those individuals to launch their campaign, and now, they’ve closed the circle,” she said. “And the only question that remains is whether any serious person takes this modern form of anti-Semitism seriously and will the United States adopt the COI Elimination Act to ensure that American taxpayers are no longer footing the bill—because right now, until that passes, we’re still picking up the tab for this U.N. assault on the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Jewish organizations involved in advocating at the U.N. unanimously condemned the report.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released a joint statement from chair Dianne Lob and CEO William Daroff, calling out the commission for its double standard.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council and its Commission of Inquiry on Israel are a complete and utter farce,” Lob and Daroff said. “The 28-page report references Israel 277 times and not once names or even acknowledges the actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the dozens of terrorist entities and terrorist proxy groups seeking the explicit destruction of Israel and death of the Jewish people. Further, it does not mention that these organizations fire rockets and deliberately target innocent civilians.”
By not recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, the commission, according to Lob and Daroff, has given its seal of approval to the terrorist organizations committing violent attacks on Israeli targets and for the Palestinian Authority to continue its malign actions, funding programs to kill Jews such as its “pay-for-slay” program.”
The Conference and other organizations pointed to the COI commissioners’ history of making anti-Semitic statements, including a recent interview where commissioner Miloon Kothari questioned Israel’s legitimacy during an interview and expressed the belief that Jews control the media.
“Based on the outrageous and anti-Semitic comments made by some of the members of the Commission of Inquiry over the summer, WJC [the World Jewish Congress] had little hope that their first report to the UN General Assembly would be a balanced one and one that would contribute to bringing Israelis and Palestinians closer together. Unfortunately, we were not wrong,” WJC wrote in a statement.
American Jewish Congress CEO Ted Deutch also focused on the report’s lack of condemnation of terrorist organizations and called for the commission to be disbanded. He called the report biased and urged countries and organizations worldwide to reject it.
“There’s no mention of Hamas. There’s no mention of terrorism. There’s no mention of the thousands of rockets that rained down on Israel with the sole intention of killing as many civilians as possible, and there’s a failure to acknowledge that every country, including Israel, has a right to defend itself,” said Deutch in a statement. “The members of this commission were biased. They expressed that bias right from the start. This commission is malicious. It is illegitimate. It should be disbanded.”
B’nai B’rith International recalled that another member of the COI once said that Jews made complaints of anti-Semitism “like rice at a wedding.”
B’nai B’rith President Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel Mariaschin wrote in a statement that the COI demanded that only Israel, not the Palestinians or others, comply with international law, as evident by the commission’s referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court.
“If it weren’t clear enough from the unprecedented scope of the ‘commission,’ from the fact that it has almost entirely focused its condemnation on Israel after the Human Rights Council condemned Israel in advance, and from the appointment only of commissioners with public, preexisting views against Israel, the two first reports of this body confirm a prejudice that is as extreme as it is blatant,” Riklin and Mariaschin wrote. “The commission members, operating within a system that condemns Israel more than all other countries combined, patently do not see a need even to pretend to conduct their ‘inquiry’ objectively.”
Mariaschin and Riklin expressed outrage that the report spoke extensively about Israel violating the property rights of the Palestinians, claiming that Israel acquires land by force—land which it calls an “integral part to the Palestinian identity”—and that Israel is meting out collective punishment against the Palestinians. The allegations were based on interviews with six Palestinian sources. But the commission did not interview or mention any Israelis who have been harmed by myriad attacks by Hamas and Palestinian terrorists.
Finally, the report concludes that it is the Israelis who are standing in the way of the realization of a two-state solution, rather than the intransigence of Hamas and Fatah leaders.
“The commission report fails to note that Israel had previously completely withdrawn all civilian residents and military personnel from the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian Sinai and southern Lebanon; that Israel had previously offered Palestinians a state on nearly all the territory of the West Bank and Gaza; and that prior Jewish inhabitants had been forcibly removed from eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank beginning during the regional war of 1948,” Riklin and Mariaschin said.