U.N. Report On Disputed Territories 'Divorced From Reality'
July 7, 2008 - 7:09 PM
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A special report presented to the U.N. Human Rights Commission on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "one-sided and prejudicial" and "lacking integrity," Israel's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva charged.
The commission, meeting in Geneva until the end of April for its 57th annual session, heard the report of U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Mary Robinson, a special commission of inquiry, and a special rapporteur which each accused Israel of "excessive use of force" in dealing with the six-month-old Palestinian uprising and referred to Israel's "occupation" of Palestinian lands as the real reason behind the violence.
"[The report] is divorced from the realities of what is happening," said Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Ya'akov Levy.
For instance, when a suicide bomber blew up in the middle of a group of teenage boys, killing two and injuring four on Wednesday, Israel received very little sympathy in the U.N. body, said Levy in a telephone interview.
Robinson briefly mentioned "the shooting dead two days ago of a 10-month-old Israeli baby girl and yesterday of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, and ... the killing and wounding of Israeli teenagers waiting for a ride to school" in her opening remarks on Wednesday.
"[However], short of that nobody mentioned [the terror]," Levy said.
The problem with the inquiry commission, established in October, is that it first condemned Israel and then sent the committee to examine the Palestinian situation, Levy said.
The commission's mandate was to collect information on "the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force [used] by the Israeli occupying power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians."
The fact that the mandate referred to the "occupied territories" meant that it was flawed from the beginning, Levy said.
Israel has already turned over some 40 percent of the disputed territories to the Palestinian Authority. More than 95 percent of the Palestinian population is already under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
But the inquiry commission doesn't look at the situation in the PA, for example, its prisons or its lack of freedom of the press, he said.
The PA has been chastised by human rights organizations and the international community for carrying out summary trials, extra-judicial killings and prohibiting the freedom of the press.
Just last week, the PA closed down a Qatar television station operating from PA territories for allegedly broadcasting an unflattering image of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Israel has also accused the PA of orchestrating and being involved in terror attacks and has defended its right to protect its citizens and soldiers, by whatever means it deems necessary, including closing off the PA-controlled territories from Israel.
Robinson, who made a visit to the region last year, described what she called a "bleak" human rights situation in which Israel had resorted to an "excessive use of force" against youthful protestors.
She set her report in the context of "the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the physical and psychological affect that it had on the Palestinian population."
While she acknowledged that many Israelis feel insecure in the present situation and noted an increase in drive-by shootings and other violence on the Palestinian side, her report pinpointed "the steady expansion of the [Jewish] settlements, the destruction without compensation of Palestinian property, and the devastating economic effect of the closures and travel restrictions as major factors underpinning the present situation."
Special Rapporteur to the commission Giorgio Ciacomelli, who resigned after filing his report, charged that, in addition to the "grave and excessive use of force," there had been a "serious impact" on the Palestinian economic sector."
In his response to the commission, Levy said that the report of the special rapporteur "to investigate Israel's violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967" was not acceptable to Israel, because it lacked any "semblance of balance."
The report lacked integrity, Levy said, since it did not refer to the Palestinian violence through which 70 Israelis had been killed and ignored the violence that had taken place in the major cities of Israel.
Levy accused the rapporteur of using secondary and tertiary sources for his information.
Regarding the accusation made against Israel of using "excessive force," the reality of the circumstances was that Israeli civilians and security services "had come under violent attacks, frequently involving live fire ammunition, by persons who did not wear uniforms."
The commission could condemn Israel in as many as five or six resolutions in this session. The assembly will likely vote on the resolutions on April 6 and 18.
There are 22 Arab states and 56 Muslim states represented in the body, compared to Israel's sole representation. Israel is usually supported by the United States, and Canada, the European Union and Norway offer a more balanced position.