At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, states debated Israel’s rights violations in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (OPT) and surrounding areas. The discussion began with the presentation of a report by Richard Falk, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the OPT.

The USA and the Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union argued that Falk’s report should be discredited for its unbalanced and unconstructive approach. They suggested that the council look into the objectivity of his mandate, which is to only investigate Israel’s violations while ignoring those of the Palestinians.

Egypt, Syria, Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group, and others expressed their support for Falk’s report. These countries criticized Israel for its recent military actions in the Gaza Strip and denial of the right of Palestinians to self determination. Bangladesh added, “It would not be an overstatement if one would say Israeli actions have turned Gaza into an open Arab prison.”

Israel protested that the very topic of debate is misleading, considering that it has not “occupied” the Gaza Strip since 2005 when it disengaged from the area. Falk responded that Israel “continues to control through controlling the air space, through the checkpoints and the wall, and control of the sea. Israel must be described as ‘the occupying power.’” He went on to claim that the retaliatory military strikes of the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza were unwarranted, saying that Israel chose violence over diplomacy. Falk also rejected the argument that Israel was acting in self-defense.

During the general debate that followed Falk’s presentation, Israel protested, “It reflects the sad truth that many in this room look to hijack this council to delegitimize Israel and its democracy.”

Palestine, Syria, Yemen for the Arab Group and others called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab territories and claimed that Israel was flagrantly violating international law. Pakistan argued that the Israeli occupation of the OPT and other Arab territories “is the root cause of violence.”

Cuba, Egypt on behalf of the African Group, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and others expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people and denounced Israel, “the occupying power,” for committing human rights violations. Many of these states also called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Switzerland called upon Israel to “immediately stop expansions” of settlements, adding, “we cannot allow these [Palestinian] victims to think the international community holds a double standard.”

Kuwait held up a picture of a dead pregnant woman and asked, “How are we politicizing the issue?” Libya stated, “Gaza was turned into a collective prison. This is a unique case in history and an attempted genocide.”

The USA voiced its support for Israel, reprimanding the U.N. for ignoring Hamas rocket terror. The USA added, “The U.N. is too often used as a platform to attack Israel while ignoring other human rights violations.”


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