The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided on Thursday, May 27, to “urgently establish an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry,” to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to,
“Investigate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021”.
The resolution was passed with 24 votes in favor, 9 against, and 14 abstentions. The US delegation of the Council in Geneva expressed its disappointment following the vote, alleging that the resolution represents an obstacle to the ‘progress’ that has been made.
LIVE: UNHRC holds special session on human rights situation in occupied West Bank https://t.co/nVw6GyPzpy
— PresserWatch (@PresserWatch) May 27, 2021
For its part, an Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement dubbed the resolution a ‘moral failure’, aimed at covering the ‘crimes’ of the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas. The Israeli statement also officially rejected the decision and declared that it will not participate in the investigation.
Below, are the full events that preceded the UNHRC’s vote, as reported on the Council’s website:
Human Rights Council Opens Special Session on “the Grave Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, Speakers Urge it to Establish an International Commission of Inquiry
“The Human Right Council this morning opened its special session on “the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”. It heard calls from speakers for the Council to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021.
“In her opening remarks, Nazhat Shameem Khan, President of the Human Rights Council, outlining the proposed extraordinary modalities for the session, said these modalities had been defined due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which prohibited public meetings of more than 15 participants, and should not serve as a precedent.
“Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said both sides had the right to defend their citizens, and Palestinians had the right to live safely and freely in their homes, something that they were unable to experience due to the Israeli blockade. The risk of evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem remained high, while the situation in the West Bank was alarming, with Israeli Security Forces killing 10 Palestinians on 14 May – the highest number in one day since the collection of these figures by the United Nations began in 2008. The situation inside Israel was concerning: mob attacks took place on individuals in mixed cities of Bat-Yam, Jaffa and Acra, as well as attacks on places of worship instigated by both sides, with Israeli police failing to protect Palestinian citizens. Despite the welcome news of the ceasefire, Ms. Bachelet emphasised that the root causes of violence must be addressed.
“Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, speaking on behalf of his mandate and on behalf of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, said the events over the past month in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and also across Israel, were a calamitous repetition of what all had previously witnessed in 2018, 2014, 2012, 2008-09, 2000, 1987 and further and deeper into the tragic history of the Palestinians. The United Nations had demanded repeatedly over the years that Israel comply with its international legal obligations and remove its settlements, stop its evictions, end the unlawful annexation, and halt the demolitions and forced removal of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. Defiance by the occupying power had been the answer. The international community must insist upon a brand-new diplomatic playbook to end the Israeli occupation, one that was centred on rights, rather than Realpolitik.
Israel rejects UNHRC decision to launch probe into Gaza war crimes while Hamas welcomes resolution, saying its action against Israel is "legitimate resistance"https://t.co/8j1G9grXT7
— TRT World (@trtworld) May 27, 2021
“Issam Younis, Director of Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza and Head of the Independent Commission for Human Rights of Palestine, said that all over Gaza, for 11 days, entire families were huddled and living on kitchen floors as this seemed the safest place. But nowhere was safe in Gaza. Israel’s unlawful closure of Gaza, 14 years of collective punishment, had been tightened. The bringing down of the Associated Press building had made it more difficult to get information out. Recent events were a mere symptom: for 73 years, there had been systematic, institutionalised efforts to impose a settler-colonial regime of racial domination and oppression on both sides of the Green Line.
“Mohammad Barakeh, former Member of the Knesset and Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee in Israel, speaking on behalf of the committee that represented all Palestinians inside Israel, noted that they had been spared displacement in 1948. Over the past decades, they had faced different forms of discrimination – confiscation of land, imposition of emergency laws, restriction of job opportunities and more. In July 2018, the Knesset had approved the Jewish nation-state law stipulating that the land of Palestine was the historical home of the Jews, who had the exclusive right to self-determination. With this, democratic principles were dismissed by Netanyahu and the Israeli State.
“Muna El Kurd, journalist and resident of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem, said the Israeli occupation forces refused to properly examine the property rights of Palestinians while the Israeli Government and colonial businesses were separating Palestinians from the land. There was an apartheid regime: settlers could move around freely unlike Palestinians. Sheikh Jarrah was illegally sealed off; residents could go out with their papers but nobody – nor their friends nor their loved ones- could come into this area. The colonial violence suffered by residents and people who took part in peaceful protest was barbaric. Palestinians were fired upon using rubber bullets, including in their homes.
Muna al-Kurd, a renowned journalist and citizen of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied #Jerusalem, was forced out of a UN Human Rights Council session today after she criticized lies by Israel's UN ambassador. #savesheikhjarrah pic.twitter.com/gkNFTne4ra
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) May 27, 2021
“In the discussion that followed, speakers, while welcoming the decision of the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes within its material scope that might have been committed on the territory of Palestine, urged the Court to include the crime against humanity of apartheid in its investigations. History showed the ceasefire would not end the everyday sufferings of the people in the occupied Palestinian territory that had been going on for more than seven decades. The Council should take decisive actions towards ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including through dispatching a commission of inquiry, speakers said. Some speakers said the establishment of a commission of inquiry would not serve the purpose of peace. Regrettably, the self-professed global champions of human rights continued to shield the occupier from global accountability, and literally provided arm and ammunitions for its widely reported war crimes and crimes of apartheid against the Palestinian people. Member States should support the draft resolution; the credibility of the Council was at stake.
“Speaking in the urgent debate were Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia; Abdul Momen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan; and Najla Elmangoush, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Government of National Unity of Libya.
“Also taking the floor were Egypt on behalf of the Group of Arab States, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Portugal on behalf of the European Union, Sweden on behalf of Nordic countries, Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, South Africa on behalf of the Group of African States, Mauritania, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Bahrain, India, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, China, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Venezuela, Sudan, Somalia, Denmark, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Kuwait and Turkey.
“The Council will next meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue the discussion and take action on the draft resolution before closing the special session.”
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(The Palestine Chronicle)