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UN appoints 3-person fact-finding mission into impact of settlements; Israel will bar entry

Israel slams door on UN Human Rights Council over settlement row
Russia Today
July 07, 2012

Israeli soldiers stand guard during clashes with palestinian who protest against Palestinian land confiscation to expand the Jewish Hallamish settlement in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Israeli officials say a UN fact-finding mission “will not be allowed to enter” the country and its occupied territories. On Friday, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council appointed three officers to probe Israel’s West Bank settlement activity.
The UN’s top human rights body has commissioned three jurists to find out how Israel’s West Bank settlements affect “the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.” The body called on Tel Aviv “not to obstruct the process of cooperation.”

This resonated harshly with Israel, who took no time to dub the mission “biased and flawed,” vowing not to support the officials.

“The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel, and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “Its existence embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UN Human Rights Council’s treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries.”

Israel cut all ties with the council in March after the 47-nation body passed a resolution establishing the settlement probe. Israel accuses the commission of a “disproportionate focus” on Israel.

“The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on Friday.

Now that the team is to be prohibited from Israel, it will have to gain evidence from second-hand sources, like local media.

But even if the mission finds that the settlements violate human rights, any attempts to punish Israel will most probably be defused by the US, Israel’s key ally.

The UN considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law. The Human Rights Council says Israel’s plans to build more houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermine the peace process and pose a threat to the two-state solution.

The West Bank settlements are at the core of dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. Some 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel expropriated from Jordan in 1967. Palestinians claim the West Bank is part of their future state, and object to any settlements there.

Israel cites historical and biblical links to the West Bank, saying the status of the settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.


Human Rights Council to probe expansion of Israeli settlements in the OPT
By UN Radio
July 6, 2012

The UN Human Rights Council is to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the rights of the Palestinian people.

The council has appointed a three member fact finding mission which will undertake the investigations in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem.

A report presented to the council by the UN expert on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk said Israeli settlement expansion has continued to accelerate with at least 3,500 units under construction in 2011.
Mr Falk said the settlements were not only illegal under international law, but their continued expansion flagrantly violates Security Council resolutions.

President of the Human Rights Council Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre of Uruguay appealed to Israel to co-operate with the fact finding mission.

I have decided to appoint three individuals to carry out the independent international mission of inquiry which will investigate the repercussions of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The names of these experts are Ms. Christine Chanet, of France; Ms. Unity Dow, of Botswana; and Ms. Asma Jahangir, of Pakistan. Ms. Chanet will act as the chair of his mission of inquiry. Ms. Chanet, Ms. Dow and Ms. Jahangir, are highly qualified for carrying out this important task which has been entrusted to them, by the Council. Each one of them has a long winded [sic] history and experience of impartial, objective work in the field of human rights.


Human Rights Council adopts 11 resolutions on Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Israeli settlements

Decides to Appoint an Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment; Decides to Send a Fact-Finding Mission to Investigate Israeli Settlements; Extends Mandates on Iran and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Procedings, UN Human Rights Council
March 22, 2012

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 11 resolutions in which it decided to appoint an Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; decided to send an independent international fact-finding mission 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; and extended for one year the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Other resolutions concerned freedom of religion or belief, birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, the right to participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities, human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

/…

The Council decided to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission 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, with a mandate ending on submission of a report to the Council. The Council called on Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission.

/…

Under its agenda item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, the Council adopted resolutions on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan in which it called upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements, from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards and to allow the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan to visit their families. With respect to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as a basic condition for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region of the Middle East and also reaffirmed its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.

Concerning the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan, the Council demanded that Israel cease all of its settlement activities, condemned the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas and called upon Israel to cease prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip. On the follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the Council welcomed the efforts of Switzerland to reconvene a conference on measures to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and recommended that the General Assembly consider launching an urgent discussion on the legality of the use of certain munitions.

/…

Introducing resolutions were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Mexico, Maldives, Costa Rica, Sweden, Japan and Pakistan.

Speaking in general comments were Uganda, Philippines and Cuba.

Ecuador, Russian Federation, Uruguay, China, Russian Federation, United States, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Czech Republic, Mexico, Austria, Italy, Costa Rica on behalf of three countries and India spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.

Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Israel and Palestine spoke as concerned countries.

The Council will continue to take action on draft resolutions and decisions on Friday, 23 March at 9:30 a.m. before concluding its nineteenth regular session.

/…

Action on Resolutions on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

/…

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.33) regarding the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, 1 against and no abstentions, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State; also reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; stresses the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination; and decides to continue the consideration of this question at its twenty-second session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (46): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (0):

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.33, said the realization of the right to self- determination was an essential condition to guarantee the observance and promotion of protection of individual human rights. The resolution recalled the relevant General Assembly, Security Council, Commission of Human Rights, and Human Rights Council resolutions that confirmed and defined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It reaffirmed the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It reaffirmed support for a two State solution, Palestine and Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security. The draft text stressed the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Israel, speaking as the concerned country, said that Israel was shocked by the level of hypocrisy and double standards that had taken root in the Council. This morning, a distinguished delegate said that country specific resolutions made little impact on the ground if the concerned country was not on board while another delegate lectured the Council that country specific resolutions should be the last resort. The Palestinian proposal was selective and Israel had not been consulted. Many speakers today had emphasized the ideas of impartiality, non-selectivity and non-politicization which they then had not applied to item seven resolutions. Israel called upon the Palestinian Authority to resume the bilateral negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian State living side by side with its neighbours. The resolution was unjustified and counterproductive and would add tension to an already explosive situation.

Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, expressed its sincere condolences to France and the families of the victims of terrorism in Toulouse. In 2010, the Palestinian people celebrated 10,000 years since the creation of the first Palestinian town of Jericho which was before Judaism, Christianity, and the arrival of Islam in the region. The right to self-determination was an ethical and legal value enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The draft resolution had not sought to exclude Israel but to protect the right of Palestinians through a fact-finding mission to be sent to investigate the colonization of Palestinian land. Some 46 per cent of Palestinian territory was under complete Israeli colonization; how could a two State solution be achieved under such circumstances? The resolution asked Israel to conform to the international obligations it had undertaken in order for the occupation to come to an end. The draft resolution called for a follow-up to the recommendations in the Goldstone Report and for a Fact Finding Mission to be sent to Gaza.

United States, in a general comment on draft resolutions L.33 and L.34, said the United States was deeply concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. The issue could only be resolved with a two-State solution. The United States was deeply troubled by the slate of resolutions that undermined the work of the Council. These issues belonged in direct negotiations. The United States continued to provide technical and financial support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. The United States was troubled by the disproportionate and one-sided resolutions. This went against collective efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace. The United States called for a vote on both L.33 and L.34 and urged Member States to join the United States in voting no on both.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.34) regarding the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 44 in favour, 1 against and 2 abstentions as orally revised, the Council reiterates that all measures and actions taken by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention and contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, are illegal and have no validity; demands that Israel cease all actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people; also demands that Israel comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; further demands that Israel cease all of its settlement activities, the construction of the wall and any other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory; condemns the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas resulting in loss of life and injury; demands that Israel comply with its legal obligations under international law, and General Assembly resolutions, and immediately cease the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, dismantle the structure, and make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall; calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and to fully implement the Agreement on Movement and Access and the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing, both of 15 November 2005, in order to allow for the sustained and regular movement of persons and goods and for the acceleration of long overdue reconstruction in the Gaza Strip; and urges Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the financial crisis and the dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation, particularly in the Gaza Strip.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (44): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (2): Cameroon and Guatemala.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.34, said the resolution expressed grave concern about the continuing systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying power. The resolution noted the excessive use of force and military operations that had caused death and injury to Palestinian civilians, including children, women and non-violent, peaceful demonstrators. The draft text expressed grave concern about the critical humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza Strip resulting from its prolonged closure and the severe economic movement restrictions. The resolution urged Israel to cease all practices and actions that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injury of civilians and the destruction and confiscation of civilian property. It also urged Israel to comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and urged Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the financial crisis and the dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Pakistan presented oral amendments to the resolution.

Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of European Union, said the European Union had suggested amendments to the resolution but not all were adopted. The European Union had not expressed itself on all legal terms and evoked its statement made in support of resolution 65/105 in the General Assembly. European Union States which were members of the Council would vote in favour of the resolution.

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.35) regarding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 1 against and 10 abstentions, the Council condemns the recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and around occupied East Jerusalem; expresses its grave concern at: the continuing Israeli settlement and related activities; and the increasing number of newly built structures amounting to several thousands; urges Israel, the occupying Power: to reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan and to prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories; calls upon Israel to implement serious measures to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations; urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process which will allow two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace and security; decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission 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, with a mandate ending on submission of a report to the Council, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission; and requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance to enable the mission to fulfil its mandate promptly and efficiently.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (36): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (10): Cameroon, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania and Spain.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.35, said the draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan, responded to the humanitarian and human rights challenges in the occupied territories. The draft text condemned recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and around occupied East Jerusalem and called upon the Government of Israel to immediately reverse its direction. The draft text called upon Israel to take and implement serious measures with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and to guarantee their safety and protection. The resolution called 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.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that following Israel’s sabotage of peace efforts and the United State’s veto of the resolution condemning the acceleration of settlements, the construction of settlements, including in the Syrian Golan, had been accelerated. With the blessing and complacency of many great powers or shyness in condemning acts, there was no land left for Palestine to establish a State. Israel had demolished homes, mosques and other sites. There was only 13 per cent of Arab Jerusalem left. These hysterical efforts to accelerate and expand building of settlements constituted a gross violation of humanitarian law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Israel had breached hundreds of international resolutions which had confirmed that the settlements were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. Sending a Commission of Inquiry to study the implications of such settlements on the rights of Palestinians and Syrians was vital.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United States was deeply troubled by another one-sided United Nations mechanism against Israel. It was inappropriate to prejudge final status issues that could only be resolved through bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The United States was against new Israeli settlements but it could not support a one-sided investigation into the conflict. The Council should engage in actions which helped move the parties toward peace and not actions that complicated peace efforts through a biased fact finding mission that would sap resources and time.

Czech Republic, also on behalf of Hungary, Poland and Romania, said in an explanation of the vote before the vote, that they continued to support the main objective of this resolution but could not agree to the establishment of the fact-finding mission because it duplicated the work of other mechanisms. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania would abstain in the vote on the resolution.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Mexico would vote in favour of the draft resolution although it had concerns about the sending of a fact-finding mission that was difficult to understand and carry out. Mexico would have preferred a more open, consultative and transparent process on this draft resolution as it contained items that were of concern to all Member States.

Austria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the construction of settlements and the separation barrier on occupied land and the destruction of Palestinian homes were in violation of international law and were a threat to lasting peace and security. Austria deplored the continued construction of settlements. Alternatives to a fact-finding mission would have been better suited to the situation, but were not included in the text. Austria would have liked to see more flexibility on the part of the delegations sponsoring the resolution.

Italy, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of Spain and Italy, said the Israeli settlements were illegal under international law, European Union law and many other forms of law. However, creating a fact-finding mission would duplicate other existing mechanisms. This would not advocate for new negotiations and full political will for carrying them on. For these reasons, Italy and Spain chose to abstain.

Costa Rica, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Costa Rica recognized the Palestinian State and was firmly committed to the Palestinian people. However, the delegation would abstain on voting on draft resolution L.35. Costa Rica was against the building of settlements by Israel. To continue this practice was contrary to international law. Costa Rica called on Israel to halt all construction. Those who had proposed the resolution had not taken into consideration all concerns. A situation such as this should not involve the presentation of the text at the last minute. It should involve dialogue and consultation with all States, especially friendly States.

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