Human Rights Committee Conducts First-Ever Review of Palestinian Record on Civil and Political Rights

Last Thursday, the UN Human Rights Committee completed its first-ever review of the Palestinian Authority for compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Palestinians had joined in April 2014.

During the two-day review, which took place on July 5-6, members of the 18-member Committee asked the Palestinian Delegation questions on numerous issues relevant to its compliance with the Convention, including the failure to hold presidential elections, torture of detainees, excessive force by security forces, the death penalty, corruption, arbitrary detentions, and gender based violence. Notably, there was one question by Committee-member from France Ms. Helene Tigroudja on antisemitism in the public sphere, which she said was “regrettable.” Disappointingly, the Palestinian delegation failed to take responsibility for widespread antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement by Palestinian officials, media, and education, and instead appeared to justify it as mere opinions about historical facts.

UN Watch participated in the review by submitting a report on Palestinian non-compliance with the Convention which is also available on the Committee’s website. UN Watch Legal Advisor also delivered an oral statement at a private briefing with NGOs on July 3rd. Her full oral statement is copied below.

Oral Statement by United Nations Watch Legal Advisor Dina Rovner, July 3, 2023

Thank you.

First, on the prohibitions against torture and arbitrary detention in Article 7 and 9 of the Convention, we urge the Committee to call for the return of the two mentally ill Israelis that have been held by Hamas in Gaza incommunicado since 2015 as well as the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul killed in the summer 2014 Gaza war.

The rest of my remarks will focus on Palestinian non-compliance with Articles 6 and 20, specifically the prohibition against “any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

According to a recent authoritative poll of Palestinian public opinion, most Palestinians believe Israel will not be around to celebrate its centenary and some 71% of respondents said they favor the formation of new armed groups, not beholden to the Palestinian Authority.

So far this year 24 civilians have been killed in terror attacks committed by Palestinian militants. Each of the attacks was praised and justified by Palestinian officials and factions including Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups. The perpetrators are a product of widespread antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement disseminated by Palestinian officials of all levels, on Palestinian media – radio, television, print, and social media – and in Palestinian education..

Rampant Palestinian incitement takes many forms, including the payment of financial rewards to convicted terrorists. Common themes include: denying Jewish historical rights in Israel, antisemitic conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, demonizing Israeli policy and officials using Nazi terminology, and glorifying Palestinian terrorists as martyrs and heroes while encouraging Palestinians to emulate them.

Regrettably, some of these themes are also present in the Palestinian Authority’s report to this Committee.

In a UN speech last month PA President Mahmoud Abbas compared Israel to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. In March, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh denied any Jewish historical connection to the land of Israel. And on International Women’s Day, Fatah Central Committee Member Abbas Zaki lauded Palestinian mothers whose children committed terror attacks because “they view their children as insignificant compared to the homeland.”

This incitement undermines peace and leads to endless cycles of violence which endanger both Palestinians and Israelis. We hope the Committee will address this issue.


UN Watch