Israel is not happy at all with the UN Human Rights Council's report on West Bank settlements

Dear Readers, a bout of Pneumonia made it  impossible to blog for several weeks.  Now, in a convalescence period, we are re-starting. With apologies, this post is currently under construction, and will be completed within the next 24 hours…

And we will analyze the UNHRC report itself in a separate post…

Update: Israeli international law expert Ruth Gavison wrote in Haaretz on 8 February that Israel “shouldn’t ignore the recent report on West Bank settlements which was written [on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission], since it reflects the maturation of a prolonged process, typical of international law.  The report reflects the views of the international community that sees Israel not only as an on-going occupier in the West Bank, but one that conducts itself as proprietary owners, perceiving their rights as overruling the Palestinians’ quest for self-determination on part of their homeland.  It should be noted that in contrast to the Human Rights Council’s report, which views the 1967 borders (the Green Line) as the only criterion for the legitimacy of Jewish settlement projects, the Israeli government has before it the report prepared by retired Justice Edmond Levy which states otherwise. This report, basing itself on the same international law, states that the entire West Bank is a legitimate target for Jewish settlement, subject to proprietary rights of Palestinian residents. The state and its courts have done their utmost to avoid taking an unambiguous stand regarding the legality of Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the context of international law. The courts have dealt mainly with property rights of individual Palestinians, such as in the case of Elon More, where expropriation of private land by settlers was forbidden. However, the courts have never addressed the significance and ramifications of the injunction against an occupying state transferring its population into conquered territories. The international community was always critical of the settlement enterprise, but the terminology used was more vague, such as ‘obstacles to achieving peace’, rather than explicitly about its illegality, as is now the case”…

Gavison continued: “If Israel continues to argue that it is permissible for Jews to settle anywhere in Mandatory (pre-1948) Palestine (other than on private land), which is what the Levy report recommends, rather than claim that this was how it interpreted international law until the issue was clarified, the country and its leaders will face mounting criticism and even sanctions.  After a deliberate suppression of the topic during the election campaign, the new government will have to decide: It must declare either that it supports a two-state solution or that it continues to see the West Bank as part of the Jewish homeland. It must be aware of the fact that the second choice, based on the Levy report, will be an explicit rejection of the commitment to the concept of international law, as perceived by the entire world. So, in fact, the government has no choice. It’s time that it accepted the fact that, even according to its own courts, these are occupied (or held) territories. As such, they are not part of the state and no ‘annexation’ can alter this fact. According to international law, a country cannot act as the owner of such lands and settle them with its citizens. Such conduct is no longer merely forbidden, but now constitutes a crime” …

It is the Treaty of Rome, which is the foundation for the International Criminal Court, that makes it a crime, Gavison says:  “The Rome Treaty of 1998 that established the International Criminal Court laid the foundation for the UN’s new report. The treaty explicitly defined the transfer of population to occupied territories by a victorious combatant as a war crime. This treaty had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when choosing the wording of this definition. Thus, the declared and consistent policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the West Bank, in the context of a territorial dispute, is now perceived not only as undesirable, but as patently illegal in the eyes of the entire international community, including the United States. This puts Israel on a collision course with international opinion, and it’s only bound to get worse. Changing the debate over the settlement enterprise into a legal one is indeed bad for Israel. There is no distinction between legal and illegal settlements, as judged by Israel, or between Jerusalem, settlement blocs or more isolated settlements. The new discourse entirely ignores local political and security considerations and does not encourage negotiations and mutual concessions”.  This is published here.

Gavison then argues that “it is of vital urgency that Israel makes a distinction between settlements that are already established, and thus probably not subject to the treaty’s clauses, and settlements not yet built. Negotiations should be based on this distinction. Not every inch of conquered territory must be repatriated. A conquest that follows a defensive war is terminated when an agreement is reached over security concerns that may have underlain the original conflict. The Palestinians are currently not addressing some of Israel’s legitimate concerns. There is also some weight given to facts that were established on occupied territory, even if they turn out to have been unlawful, and to the length of time that has elapsed, not all of which was the fault of Israel. Israel is right in arguing that a total dismissal of the entire settlement project and a call for full withdrawal is unrealistic, and not conducive towards finding a solution”.

She then recommends that “Israel should submit a proposal for solving the conflict in which it relinquishes its claims to the entire area, and recognize the Palestinians’ rights for self-determination in part of their homeland, subject to adequate security arrangements”…

UPDATE: On 2 February

Nachman Shai, reelected to Knesset [for Labor Party, after Kadima imploded], denounces UN HRC report on settlements – …

#PT Nachman Shai: “Israel quite rightly will not engage in a process that is effectively a rubber stamp for the Sudans of this world” …

#PT “we will not engage in disc abt report calling, outrageously, for sanctions against our country, by a body whose VP is rep from Sudan”


UPDATE: On 1 February
MT @emilylhauser – #Israel can ignore the facts…but abuses & perfidies won’t magically become something else: …

MT @emilylhauser only way to be comfortable w/ these facts is to say the Jewish past is more binding than intl law & our lives more special

Emily Hauser: “there’s simply no way to explain away the entire corpus of Israeli actions in the occupied territories” …

Emily Hauser: “The Israeli government and the settler movement know exactly what they’re doing”. …


On 29 January:
louis charbonneau @lou_reuters —#Israel boycotts U.N. rights scrutiny session 


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — “Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March after the HR Council approved a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlement activity”

#PT from Jerusalem Post article – …


Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Human Rights Council “regretted” Israel’s decision not to participate in the review of its compliance with HR obligations “at sched time”


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called on Israel “to resume its cooperation” w/ Universal [for every member] Periodic Review mechanism [by November 2013]


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch in Geneva: Israel decision was due to 1) Israel’s 2012 decision to sever all ties w/ the UNHRC [b/c ofperm agenda item on Israel]

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 2) Israel review wld be under “newly-elected UNHRC member Venezuela, the Iranian-allied dictatorship of Hugo Chavez”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk –UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 3rd reason for Israel’s non-participation = “in reality, the UPR is, for the most part, a mutual praise society”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Watch “is concerned by a deepening culture of mutual praise, where members of large voting blocs grant each other immunity” [via email].

Marian Houk @Marianhouk – UN Watch statement cont’d: “The danger of the mutual praise is that the UPR review is then used as a seal of legitimacy”.

Israel criticized again in UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

The Geneva based NGO UN Watch, which monitors UN activities that touch Israel, notes that, at the end of its third regular session, today, “the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel twice, bringing its total number of resolutions against the Jewish state, in its [meaning the Human Rights Council – because the State of Israel has existed since 15 May 1948] six months of existence, to eight.  Israel is the only country in the world that the Council has condemned for human rights violations since it was inaugurated in June.  Today’s censures were the only Council resolutions from this session that addressed a specific country.  The two texts deal with ‘follow up’ to two earlier Council resolutions pronouncing Israel guilty of human rights violations in Gaza and in Lebanon without mentioning the actions or violations of Hamas or Hezbollah, which were widely criticized by Western states and human rights organizations as one-sided.  Both of today’s resolutions mandate additional reporting on and scrutiny of Israel’s conduct when the Council meets again in March.”

A press release issued by UN Watch quotes executive director Hillel Neuer as saying ” The Council, regrettably, continues to defy the repeated pleas of Secretary-General Annan to move past its obsession with one-sided resolutions against Israel … [T]he Council is reserving virtually all of its criticism for Israel, and today’s resolutions guarantee that this imbalance will continue at its next session.”

The UN Watch press release adds that “The only other country situation on which the Council has passed a resolution in its first six months is that of Darfur, Sudan.  That resolution, however, neither accuses Sudan of committing violations nor holds it responsible for halting the ongoing atrocities in Darfur”.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Darfur next Tuesday, 12 December.

But, until now, UN Watch notes, “The Council’s three previous special sessions, held in July, August, and November, all focused on Israel”.

UN Watch was founded in 1993, by a former U.S. Ambassador (Morris B. Abram).

The present U.S. Ambassador in Geneva, Warren W. Tichenor, made his own statement during today’s session of the UN Human Rights Council, saying: “By condemning only Israel and discouraging an examination of the actions of Hizballah, the Council is rewarding an armed non-state actor, one that is currently trying to bring down the democratically elected Lebanese government, for engaging in repeated armed attacks against a member state of the United Nations.  Hizballah has attacked civilians and has conducted its operations in Lebanon in a manner that puts civilians in harm’s way.  Hizballah deliberately adopted these tactics to camouflage its operations — to insulate its forces from attack, in such a way that even if Israel attacks legitimate targets, Hizballah will score public relations points from the spectacle of Lebanese civilian casualties and death.  The United States remains a strong supporter of Lebanon’s democratically elected government, and the Lebanese people, as we reiterate our dedication to help Lebanon rebuild as they deserve a prosperous and secure country in which they are free to make decisions without fear of violence or intimidation.”

Ambassador Tichenor also said, in his statement to the UN’s Human Rights Council: “The human suffering on both sides of the Lebanon-Israel border earlier this year was a tragedy and remains a serious concern of my government.  Faced with the tragic results of the conflict in Lebanon precipitated by the egregious cross-border attacks by Hizballah, the Council reacted in August with a one-sided and unfair resolution aimed only at Israel. The Council compounded its actions by creating a Commission of Inquiry to investigate only Israel’s use of force. As we heard at this session, the Commission report was one-sided and flawed. When evaluating issues such as targeting, use of weapons, and proportionality — which are in any event matters outside the mandate of the Council — one needs to look fully at all sides to the armed conflict.  Nevertheless, in its long list of recommendations, the Commission managed to make a few that would apply to Hizballah.”

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its fourth session in Geneva next year, over a four-week  period, from 12 March to 5 April 2007.

(The Human Rights Council is mandated to hold at least three separate sessions per year, totalling at least ten weeks.)

Before closing this last regular session of 2006, the Human Rights Council’s President, Luis Alfonso de Alba of Peru, said, according to a UN Press release, that “The Council had been working hard by combining substantive issues with a focus on institution-building. The Council had also dealt with highly topical and substantive issues. Although there were still matters to be worked out, many important things had successfully been accomplished. The Council had been requested by the resolution of the General Assembly to strengthen the mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights by taking the positive and effective instruments of the former Commission on Human Rights… [He also said] It was also important to underscore the achievements made in a positive manner, without excluding any one from participating in the process. The Council was starting a new phase of institution-building and should continue to deal with other issues as well.”