On March 22, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution calling for “an independent international fact-finding mission, appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” This was one of five resolutions at the 19th UNHRC Session focused on allegations of Israeli violations (more than any other country); Israel is also the only country targeted by a permanent agenda item at the UNHRC. In response to this consistent violation of the universal human rights framework, the Israeli government announced an end to all contacts with the UNHRC.
As with the 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (led by Judge Richard Goldstone), the 2002 pseudo-investigation on the basis of the “Jenin massacre” myth, and many other examples, this resolution reflects the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with the powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This alliance was also responsible for the infamous UN Durban Conference, in which the NGO Forum adopted a strategy for the “complete isolation of Israel” using false allegations of “war crimes” and pseudo-investigations, and the one-sided 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion on Israel’s security barrier.
Before the latest UNHRC session, the Ramallah-based Al Haq, funded by Norway, Ireland, and the NDC mechanism (joint funding from Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands) submitted a written statement on behalf of 11 Palestinian NGOs, lobbying for “a UN Fact-Finding Mission to investigate the widespread and systematic nature of Israel’s policies and practices that lead to the forcible transfer of the protected Palestinian population.” These NGOs include European-funded Palestinian activist groups, Al-Dameer, Al-Mezan , BADIL, and Defence for Children International-Palestine Section.
Additionally, during the session, NGOs – Al-Haq, BADIL, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (also on behalf of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights), and Nord-Sud XXI (North-South XXI) – made oral statements in support of the anti-Israel resolutions, using demonizing rhetoric and advancing a one-sided and biased agenda. These NGO statements ignore or contradict the Oslo framework, jointly negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, which regulates the administration of the West Bank. European governments and the EU played a significant role in establishing and preserving the Oslo framework.
Reflecting the lobbying and language in NGO statements, the UNHRC resolution condemned Israel for: “the wall”; “expansion of settlements, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation and destruction of property, the expulsion of Palestinians and the construction of bypass roads”; “Israel’s announcement that it will retain the major settlement blocks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the settlements located in the Jordan Valley”; and “The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev.”
As a result of this and similar campaigns, these NGOs and their European government sponsors share in the responsibility for the exploitation of the UNHRC as a framework for political warfare and discrimination against Israel.
Excerpts from NGO oral and written statements:
Al-Haq, Al Mezan, BADIL, DCI-PS, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, and others, joint written statement, February 23, 2012:
- “We urge (s) this Council to form a UN Fact-Finding Mission to investigate the widespread and systematic nature of Israel's policies and practices that lead to the forcible transfer of the protected Palestinian population.”
- “[We] urge the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons to conduct a visit to the OPT without delay and to report on his findings to the Council.”
Al Haq representing 11 Palestinian NGOs, oral statement, March 19, 2002:
- “The international community cannot continue to ignore Israel’s practices of apartheid, as they are part and parcel of the denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. We call upon this council to recognize that Palestinians in the OPT are subject to practices of apartheid and to establish a fact finding mission to examine Israel’s violations and to indicate how best to ensure respect for international law.”
- “These abuses are part of a systematic practice of apartheid, which has seen the noose grow tighter and tighter around the neck of the Palestinian people.”
BADIL, written statement, February 27-March 23, 2012:
- “Israel’s discriminatory land laws constitute a pillar of its colonial apartheid system.”
- “In order to achieve this aim, Israel has implemented various land and planning laws. These laws were formulated with two general policies in mind: (a) the ‘confiscation and colonization’ of the vast majority of Palestinian owned land; and (b) the ‘concentration and containment’ of the Palestinian population within small pockets of land, which are dispersed and fragmented across the OPT and within Israel.”
- Quoting a B’Tselem publication: “Israeli space has been highly dynamic, but the changes have been mainly in one direction: Jews expand their territorial control by a variety of means including on-going settlement, while Arabs have been contained within an unchanged geography.”
BADIL, oral statement, February 27- March 23, 2012:
- “This [the killing of 28 Palestinians and 75 injured during recent fighting in Gaza] confirms that Israel fails to take sufficient precautions to avoid the loss of civilian life…they represent Israel’s ongoing strategy to debilitate and devastate the Palestinian population in Gaza. These frequent attacks are an intensified effort to intimidate and traumatize the Palestinians living there.”
- “We therefore urge the Human Rights Council to draw urgent attention to Israel’s continued impunity and its ongoing aggression against Gaza.”
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), oral statement, March 22, 2012:
- “PCHR AND IADL note that the collective punishment of the prisoners, and the imprisoned population of the Gaza strip, graphically illustrates the consequences of the impunity extended to Israel and responsible Israeli officials.”
EAFORD (International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination), written statement, February 16, 2012:
- “The international community wants both sides to have a better future, but could the Israeli leadership ever respect the resolutions of the United Nations and Security Council as long as it can rely on United States veto power which so far has encouraged Israel to ignore its responsibility and trample on international law? How many more Palestinians need to be made homeless before the wolf is no longer entrusted with the hen house? [sic]”