The UN’s special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories has decried how Israel’s “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.
Michael Lynk pointed on Monday to announcements by Israel to build 6,000 new housing units in Palestinian areas, accompanied by “high rates of demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.
He accused Israel of “the subjugation of [Palestinians’] humanity”, and also cited a UN Security Council resolution in December that called the establishment of settlements in the West Bank a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Lynk made the statements in a report presented to the UN rights council during the Geneva-based body’s mandated session on Israel, known as Agenda Item Seven.
The US Department of State criticised the UN council on Monday for holding its Israel debate and vowed in a statement “to vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item”.
The United States also boycotted Monday’s session saying the regular review showed the council’s “long-standing bias against Israel”, which threatens the “credibility” of the body.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, denounced that Israel was the only country on the 47-member council’s calendar.
“It is not Syria, where the regime has systematically slaughtered and tortured its own people,” she said.
“It is not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It is not North Korea, where the regime uses forced labour camps to crush its people into submission. It is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”
A letter from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to advocacy groups, obtained by the AP news agency last week, said the US would not continue participating unless the council undergoes “considerable reform”.
In the more than 230 country-specific resolutions at the council since it was founded 11 years ago, more than one-quarter have been focused on Israel, whose policies in Palestinian areas have raised rights concerns for decades.
Source: News agencies
Israel and Palestine
The innocent imprisoned. Movement restricted. Trade suffocated. Homes demolished. Human rights abuses are rife in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
We do not take a position on issues of statehood.
We stand with those demanding that all sides respect human rights, and that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has awarded the highest Palestinian honour to Rima Khalaf, a senior UN official who resigned on Friday amid pressure to withdraw a report that accused Israel of creating an apartheid state.
Local media reported the Palestinian president had spoken to Khalaf by phone and given her Palestine’s Medal of the Highest Honor in recognition of her “courage and support” for Palestinians.
A statement said Abbas “stressed to Khalaf that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position”.
Khalaf stepped down from her posts as the UN undersecretary-general and executive secretary for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) after the report was removed from the ESCWA website.
The report accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime that oppresses the Palestinian people. It also urged governments to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Hanan Ashrawi, an executive member of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the report was a “step in the right direction” and should be reinstated.
“Instead of succumbing to political blackmail or allowing itself to be censored or intimidated by external parties, the UN should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible,” Ashrawi said in a statement on Saturday.
Upon resigning, Khalaf said: “It was expected that Israel and its allies will exercise pressure on the UN secretary-general to distance himself from the report and that they will ask him to withdraw it.”
A UN spokesman said the issue with Khalaf was not the content of the report, but a result of her failure to follow the necessary procedure before the publication.
“The secretary-general cannot accept that an undersecretary-general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorise the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself,” Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres, told reporters on Friday.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab said, however, it was “highly unlikely” that UN leadership was unaware of the report’s existence or its content prior to its publication.
“The curious thing here is that Al Jazeera and many other news organisations had been aware of this report for several days now,” he said on Friday.
Israel was highly critical of the report, likening it to Nazi-era propaganda. The United States also demanded the report be withdrawn.
Ofir Gendelman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s spokesman, said on Twitter that Abbas was waging “a diplomatic war on Israel” by announcing the award, describing the report as “libellous and false”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies