UN-mandated rights inquiry rebukes Israel: Report condemned by the US

June 8, 2022 by AAP
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An independent commission of inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council after the 2021 Gaza war says Israel must do more than end the occupation of land Palestinians want for a state.

A sound grenade is fired by Israeli forces during a protest against the creation of a new road for Israeli settlers, near the Palestinian village of Beita, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs called the newly-released report “a waste of money and effort” that amounted to a witch hunt.

Israel boycotted the inquiry, accusing it of bias and barred entry to its investigators.

Unusually, the three-member commission of inquiry has an open-ended mandate.

A diplomat said that its mandate was already a sensitive issue. “People don’t like the idea of perpetuity,” he said.

Its members are from India, South Africa and Australia with the appointments made on a personal basis. The members do not represent their individual countries and are supposedly selected by the Council for their expertise. The Australian is Chris Sidoti described by the UNHRC as an “international human rights consultant and an expert in national human rights institutions and in international human rights law and mechanisms”. ¹

While prompted by the 11-day May 2021 conflict in which 250 Gaza Palestinians and 13 people in Israel died, the inquiry mandate includes alleged human rights abuses before and after that and seeks to investigate the “root causes” of the tensions.

It cites evidence saying Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation” and is pursuing “complete control” over what it calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in a 1967 war.

“What has become a situation of perpetual occupation was cited by Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders to the commission as the one common issue” that amounts to the “underlying root cause” of recurrent tensions, instability and protracted conflict, the authors wrote.

They said “impunity” for perpetrators of violence was feeding resentment among Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

“Ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient,” the report says, urging additional action to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights.

Citing an Israeli law denying naturalisation to Palestinians married to Israelis, the report accuses the country of affording “different civil status, rights and legal protection” for Arab minorities.

Israel says such measures safeguard national security and the country’s Jewish character.

The Israel ministry added: “It is a biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased repo rts.”

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but, with the help of Egypt, clamps down on the borders of the enclave now governed by Hamas Islamists.

Palestinian authorities have limited self-rule in the West Bank, which is dotted with Israeli settlements.

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, opened the May 2021 war with rocket attacks following moves to evict Palestinian families in east Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

The Gaza fighting was accompanied by rare street violence within Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens.

Hamas welcomed the report and urged the prosecution of Israeli leaders in what it said were “crimes” against the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Authority also praised the report and called for accountability “in a manner that puts an end to Israel’s impunity”.

The report will be discussed at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council next week.

The body cannot make legally binding decisions.

The United States quit the Council in 2018 over what it described as its “chronic bias” against Israel and only fully rejoined this year.

Unusually, the three-member commission of inquiry has an open-ended mandate.

A diplomat said that its mandate was already a sensitive issue.

“People don’t like the idea of perpetuity,” he said.

Its members are from India, South Africa and Australia.

The US State Department released a scathing response to the new report, which again solely blamed Israel for all the maladies in the Middle East, rejecting its “one-sided, biased approach.”

In May 2021, the UNHRC approved an open-ended investigation of Israel’s alleged “war crimes, treatment of Palestinians, and human rights violations,” the only country-specific agenda item on the Council’s agenda. The Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel solely focuses on the actions Israel takes against the terrorist group Hamas.

This unprecedented committee is now a permanent UN fixture with a budget of US $4,151,800 for the year 2022 alone, that reports to the UN twice every year on Israel’s alleged human rights violations.

The COI, in its first report published Tuesday, placed the onus on Israel when it claimed that “the continued occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory and discrimination against Palestinians are the key root causes of the recurrent tensions, instability, and protraction of conflict in the region.”

“Our review of the findings and recommendations of previous UN mechanisms and bodies clearly indicates that ending Israel’s occupation, in full conformity with Security Council resolutions, remains essential in stopping the persistent cycle of violence. 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,” Commissioner Miloon Kothari noted.

In response, the US stated that it “firmly oppose[s] the open-ended and vaguely defined nature” of the COI, which “represents a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.”

The report “does nothing to alleviate our concerns.  While the United States believes the HRC plays a crucial role in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms globally, this COI and report do not advance this goal.”

The State Department pointed out that Israel “is the only country subject to a standing agenda item at the HRC and has received disproportionate focus at the HRC compared to human rights situations elsewhere in the world.  While no country is above scrutiny, the existence of this COI in its current form is a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel. We reengaged with and later re-joined the HRC in part to be in a better position to address its flaws, including this one, and we will continue to seek reforms.”

The US “remains deeply committed to helping achieve peace for both Israelis and Palestinians and will support actions in the UN that bring the parties together to advance prospects for peace,” it stated.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected the report and pointed out that the COI is a body “which includes some of the worst human rights abusers and has a history of singling out and vilifying Israel while ignoring major global crises.”

Navi Pillay, a retired South African judge and former UN human rights chief who now head the COI, apparently violated UN rules by failing to disclose numerous of her prior anti-Israel statements that directly prejudge the matters before the inquiry. For instance, in a June 14, 2021, joint letter to US President Joe Biden, Pillay decried Israel’s “domination and oppression of the Palestinian people,” calling on the US to “address the root causes of the violence” by ending Israel’s “ever-expanding discrimination and systemic oppression.”

“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,” she now stated.

The 18 page report “solely defames Israel while ignoring Palestinian terrorism and violence targeting Israelis,” as Israel is mentioned 157 times, Hamas is mentioned only three times, and terrorism is mentioned only four times.

The report, which is a condensed version of older “equally unreliable reports,” cost four million dollars to produce, the Ministry pointed out. “That’s $232,672 per page.”

The report “does not address Israel’s security needs or Palestinian terror. It’s no surprise that three of the COI committee members have a history of anti-Israel opinions. So what does this dangerous and discriminatory report leave us with? More hatred, violence and global anti-Semitism, demonization of Israel and a reward for terrorism,” it concluded.

The UN Human Rights Council members include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Qatar, Egypt, Cuba, China, Venezuela, Mauritania, Sudan and Libya.

The UNHRC is infamously biased against Israel, with nearly half of its resolutions focused solely on Israel while it ignores war, strife and atrocities committed around the globe. It passed roughly an equal number of resolutions from 2006-2019 condemning Israel and the rest of the world combined.


By Emma Farge and Dan Williams in GENEVA/JERUSALEM with reporting from AP/TPS/J-Wire/AAP

¹   Editor’s note: The United Nations Human Rights Council published the following bio:

Mr. Chris Sidoti (Australia)

Chris Sidoti (Australia) is an international human rights consultant and an expert in national human rights institutions and in international human rights law and mechanisms. Since February 2021, he is the founder and an International Expert of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar. From 2017 to 2019, he served as one of the Members of the UN Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar. Since 2000, he has provided consultancy services on human rights law and practices to the OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF, the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and several national human rights institutions. Sidoti also holds a number of academic positions. He was Executive Director of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR; 2003-2007), served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995), and Founding Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). From 1999 to 2013 he was principal facilitator and interlocutor in a human rights initiative between the Governments of Australia and Myanmar.



2 Responses to “UN-mandated rights inquiry rebukes Israel: Report condemned by the US”
  1. Bill Rubinstein says:

    Who is the Australian member of the UNHRC committee?

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