Cycle of violence with no end in sight
UN report on Israel and Palestine
Broken record: The UN's report released yesterday reinforces findings by human rights groups but is once again vehemently opposed in its entirety by Israel and its best friend, the US.
Navanethem Pillay is the chair of the COI (Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel) Her UN bio describes her as a “South African national, [who] was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island.”
She wrote in the UN report:
The findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, which we have taken as an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one State occupying the other.
In February 2022, Amnesty International released a detailed report describing:
..how massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law.
Back in April 2021, Human Rights Watch released its report alleging apartheid in Israel:
Several widely held assumptions, including that the occupation is temporary, that the “peace process” will soon bring an end to Israeli abuses, that Palestinians have meaningful control over their lives in the West Bank and Gaza, and that Israel is an egalitarian democracy inside its borders, have obscured the reality of Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians.
Fifteen years ago, President Carter, who brokered the Camp David Accords in 1978 between Israel and Egypt, published his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. When NPR asked Carter about the use of the word ‘apartheid,’ he explained:
Apartheid is a word that is an accurate description of what has been going on in the West Bank, and it's based on the desire or avarice of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land.. This is a word that's a very accurate description of the forced separation within the West Bank of Israelis from Palestinians and the total domination and oppression of Palestinians by the dominant Israeli military.
And after each instance, there has been vitriolic pushback.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry response to the UN report:
[The COI's report is] nothing more than a waste of money and effort of the United Nations’ systems [and] part and parcel of the witchhunt being carried out by the Human Rights Council against Israel.
US State Department Spokesperson, Ned Price responded:
The COI in its current form is a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel. As we have stated repeatedly, we firmly oppose the open-ended and vaguely defined nature of the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which represents a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.
From Israeli and American media, the pushback falls into 4 categories:
From the US point-of-view, Israel is consistently singled out by the Human Rights Council despite human rights situations elsewhere in the world.
Israel in part dismisses the 18-page report because it does not single out Hamas and thoroughly detail the terrorism inflicted upon Israel.
Stakeholders inside of Israel claim antisemitism is fueling consistent and virulent accusations against them from the COI.
And neither the US or Israel believe this report, or reports like this, help advance peace.
What sparked the investigation?
Jerusalem Day commemorates the reunification of East and West Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967. Last May, marches turned ugly, Hamas fired rockets and a 11-day conflict ensued leaving 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel dead.
While the investigation was ongoing..
Politico wrote of Jerusalem Day 2022, which took place only a couple weeks ago:
Thousands of Israeli nationalists, some of them chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded through the heart of the main Palestinian thoroughfare in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, in a show of force that risked setting off a new wave of violence in the tense city.
The crowds, who were overwhelmingly young Orthodox Jewish men, were celebrating Jerusalem Day — an Israeli holiday that marks the capture of the Old City in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians see the event, which passes through the heart of the Muslim Quarter, as a provocation.
Many marchers sang and danced as they wound their way through the narrow, stone streets. Others sought confrontation.
"An Arab is a son of a whore," a group of youths yelled in front of Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City's Muslim neighbourhood. "May your villages burn," another group shouted.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned in a statement what he said was "a minority that has come to set the area ablaze," while Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the extremist groups La Familia and Lehava, whose flags were raised during the procession, "do not deserve to carry the Israeli flag."
Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev defended approving the route of the march through the Muslim quarter of the Old City, writing on Twitter: "If we succumb to the threats of terrorism not to wave Israeli flags in our capital, we will not know one day of silence, and we will find ourselves folding in the future as well." But he also condemned what he said was "ugly racist behavior that cannot be tolerated."
And from the Associated Press:
The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said 62 Palestinians were wounded, including 23 who needed hospitalization. Israeli police said they arrested over 60 suspects and that five officers were wounded. The vast majority of those arrested appear to have been Palestinians, though police refused to provide a breakdown.
The UN’s report will be presented next week in Geneva at the 50th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council and will address how:
Ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, and discrimination against Palestinians, is essential to stopping the decades-long conflict between the two sides.
If not apartheid, it’s difficult to understand the situation.
The UN report makes a point to state:
The Palestinian Authority frequently uses the occupation as a justification for its own human rights violations and as the core reason for its failure to hold legislative and presidential elections.
Meanwhile, the de facto authorities in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas militants who broke away after winning elections in 2006, have shown little commitment to upholding human rights, and no adherence to international humanitarian law.
And hence, a cycle of violence without end.
In reading Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness, he spoke compassionately and sincerely how so much blood had spilled and hate spewed in South Africa, the system of apartheid had to be put on trial with all citizens (especially those who had inflicted violence) as witnesses not to be persecuted. With the unabridged truth, a new system of cooperation could finally be implemented without rancor and old wounds impeding progress.
Yet, if Israel keeps stating all perceived aggression is in fact Israel defending itself against militant terrorists, the US (or other 3rd party) cannot help broker a peace deal and Palestinians feel the world courts are ineffectual, then the needle on the record player will continue to play the same heart wrenching song.
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