Thursday, July 7

UN to launch investigation into “systematic discrimination” in Israel and Palestine | Israel

The main UN human rights body will launch an investigation into “systematic discrimination and repression” in Israel and Palestine, with the aim of identifying what it said were the root causes of the recent bloodshed in Gaza.

The proposal for unprecedented levels of scrutiny of alleged abuses, called at the request of Muslim states, was approved by the 47-member UN human rights council on Thursday.

Opening the session in Geneva, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Israel’s attacks on Gaza this month could constitute war crimes if found to be disproportionate, and accused Hamas of firing indiscriminate rockets at Israel.

“There is no question that Israel has the right to defend its citizens and residents. However, the Palestinians also have rights, the same rights, ”said Bachelet, former president of Chile. “The death and injury of children in this escalation is a source of shame for all.”

Eleven days of the worst fighting in years claimed more than 250 lives in Gaza, including 66 children, and 12 in Israel, including two children.

However, agree to resolution, the UN agency called for the urgent establishment of a commission to investigate all “violations”, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel.

The commission would investigate “all the underlying causes of the recurring tensions, instability and protracted conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”

In her opening speech, Bachelet said the violence in Gaza was “directly related” to the protests in Jerusalem that began weeks earlier, which she said were met with “a strong response from the Israeli security forces.”

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He said two factors led to the escalation: the imminent eviction of Palestinians “in a situation of forced displacement” in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the use of “excessive force” by Israel against Palestinian protesters, including the al-Aqsa mosque. , the third holiest place in Islam.

Bachelet said that while he welcomed Friday’s ceasefire, “there must be a genuine and inclusive peace process to address these root causes and end the occupation.”

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, criticized the body.

His sole purpose, he said Wednesday, was “to blame Israel, to cover up the crimes committed by Hamas and for the Palestinian Authority to avoid assuming its responsibilities towards its own population.”

The commission follows the moves of some diplomats and international bodies to rethink the crisis amid an evolving global debate on racism, and to present the violence in the context of decades of Israel’s control over millions of Palestinians.

On Sunday, France’s foreign minister said the status quo would lead to a “risk of apartheid,” a charge that has largely been made by activists and human rights groups rather than governments.

On Wednesday, the Irish government supported a motion condemning Israel’s “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land in what it said was the first use of the phrase by an EU government in relation to Israel.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney described what he said was Israel’s “grossly unequal” treatment of the Palestinian people. He added that the “strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind them have brought us to a point where we must be honest about what is really happening on the ground.”

Israel has flatly denied the apartheid accusations and summoned the French ambassador on Thursday. Meanwhile, the spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, Lior Haiat, tweeted that Ireland’s “outrageous and baseless position” reflected a “blatantly one-sided and simplistic policy”.

The statements by France and Ireland are in stark contrast to those of the US and UK, which have been in line with long-standing politics. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab toured the region this week and reiterated their countries’ commitment to a two-state solution. The UK voted against Thursday’s resolution, which received 24 votes in favor, nine against and 14 abstentions. The United States is not a member of the council.

Israel and its allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have accused the UN human rights body of a disproportionate anti-Israel bias. The council, elected by the UN general assembly, has a permanent feature on its annual agenda related to Israel and Palestine. No other issue has a dedicated article.

Thursday’s resolution was also unique in that it created the council’s first open commission of inquiry.

Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told reporters that the recent violence was only the latest in a long cycle and said an investigation should have “permanent status.”

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