UN Commission: Apartheid Charges Against “Israel” Will Be Investigate
By Staff, Agencies
The open-ended United Nations Commission of Inquiry into rights abuses by “Israel” said Thursday it will investigate apartheid charges against the “Israeli” entity, confirming fears in Tel Aviv that the controversial probe would seek to brand it with the toxic term.
The ongoing UN investigation was set up by the Human Rights Council following last year’s 11-day “Israeli” aggression on besieged Gaza Strip to probe rights abuses.
The commission released its second report last week, calling on the UN Security Council to end the “Israeli” entity’s “permanent occupation” and urging UN member states to prosecute “Israeli” officials.
On Thursday, the three members of the commission said future reports will investigate apartheid by the “Israeli” entity, during a briefing at the United Nations in New York. They said the investigation had so far focused on the “root causes” of the conflict, which they ascribe to the entity’s presence in the occupied West Bank.
Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief who chairs the commission, called apartheid “a manifestation of the occupation.”
“We’re focusing on the root cause which is the occupation and part of it lies in apartheid,” Pillay said. “We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate, it gives us the scope.”
Commission member Miloon Kothari also said the open-ended nature of the probe allowed it to examine the apartheid charge.
“We will get to it because we have many years and issues to look at,” he said.
“We think a comprehensive approach is necessary so we have to look at issues of settler colonialism,” Kothari added. “Apartheid itself is a very useful paradigm, so we have a slightly different approach but we will definitely get to it.”
The “Israeli” regime has refused to cooperate with the commission and has not granted it entry into the entity or access to the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza. It rejected last week’s report, calling the panel neither credible nor legitimate. On Thursday, the “Israeli” entity’s ambassador to the UN said the panel’s members were chosen because they “abhor” “Israel”.
Reports earlier this year said the entity’s so-called Foreign Ministry was planning a campaign to head off accusations of apartheid by the commission. A leaked cable reportedly revealed “Israeli” officials were concerned about the damage the commission’s first report could do if it referred to the "Israeli" entity as an “apartheid 'state'.”
The “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, while serving as foreign minister earlier this year, warned that the entity would face intense campaigns to label it an apartheid state this year.
The UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have accused “Israel” of apartheid in the past two years, borrowing the term from South Africa’s system of codified race-based discrimination.
The commission presented its latest report to the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
The 28-page report accuses the “Israeli” entity of violating international law by making its control over the occupied West Bank permanent, and by annexing Palestinian land in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the occupied West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights. It also accuses the entity of discriminatory policies against 1948 Palestinians, of stealing natural resources, and of gender-based violence against Palestinian women.
Lapid has called the report antisemitic, “biased, false, inciting and blatantly unbalanced.”
The US has also repeatedly condemned the commission. US President Joe Biden denounced the investigation as biased during a meeting with “Israeli” President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday.
The investigation “continues a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out ‘Israel’ and does nothing to establish conditions for ‘peace’,” the White House said.
Pillay dismissed allegations of antisemitism on Thursday, calling the claims “offensive” and “a diversion.”
“All three of us are not antisemitic. Let me make that clear, and then to add insult to injury, they said the report is also antisemitic. There isn’t a word in this report that can be interpreted as antisemitic,” she said. “This is always raised as a diversion.”
“We’re so committed to justice, the rule of law and human rights and we should not be subjected to abuse such as this. They’re totally false, all false and lies,” she said.
She said the “Israeli” regime may be guilty of international crimes, including war crimes, by transferring civilians into “occupied territory,” referring to West Bank settlements, where nearly 500,000 “Israeli” settlers live.
Kothari denounced settlers as a “paramilitary force.”
“They can do whatever the hell they want, they can raid homes, they can destroy olives,” he said.
Pillay dismissed security concerns the “Israeli” entity cites for maintaining a presence in the occupied West Bank as “a fiction” the country was trying to “hide behind.”
“Some of ‘Israel’s’ policies in the West Bank are only cosmetically intended to justify security concerns,” she said.
The commission has called for the entity to immediately withdraw from the occupied West Bank.