UN Human Rights Council Condemns Israel’s Illegal Settlements, Occupation Of Golan Heights

A worker stands by construction materials to unload at a Israeli Settlment unit in an east Jerusalem neighborhood. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

A worker stands by construction materials to unload at a Israeli Settlment unit in an east Jerusalem neighborhood. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

GENEVA — The U.N. Human Rights Council has adopted four resolutions which affirm the rights of the Palestinian people and condemn Israel’s illegal occupation of their land.

The resolutions, passed on March 24 at the HRC’s 31st meeting, represent the latest attempt by the council to reign in Israel’s continued expansion of illegal settlements.

In a resolution on “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan,” the council urges Israel to reverse its expansion into these regions, noting:

“Israeli settlement activities involve … the transfer of nationals of the occupying Power into the occupied territories, the confiscation of land, the forcible displacement of Palestinian civilians, including Bedouin families, the exploitation of natural resources, the conduct of economic activity for the benefit of the occupying Power, the disruption of the livelihood of protected persons, the de facto annexation of land and other actions against the Palestinian civilian population and the civilian population in the occupied Syrian Golan that are contrary to international law.”

It calls for notable action, including the creation of a database of businesses that operate in these illegally occupied territories. This could be a potential boon for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

While the Golan Heights region of Syria has been occupied by Israel since the Six Day War in 1967, the development of settlements and the exploitation of the region’s valuable oil and gas deposits has ramped up under cover of the chaos caused by the ongoing civil war.

A second resolution shares the council’s concerns about the “[h]uman rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” Among the many issues raised in this resolution, the council calls for “urgent attention to the plight and the rights, in accordance with international law, of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails,” according to a press release published on its website.

Israel has a long history of mistreating Palestinian and other minority prisoners in its detention centers. Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al-Qeeq gained worldwide support and sparked protests by spending over 70 days on hunger strike inside an Israeli prison earlier this year.

Other human rights violations addressed in the resolution include “the excessive use of force and military operations causing death and injury to Palestinian civilians, including children and women, as well as to non-violent, peaceful demonstrators and to journalists, including through the use of live ammunition; the use of collective punishment; the closure of areas; the confiscation of land.”

Acknowledging Israel’s history of blatantly disregarding resolutions which decry its human rights violations and war crimes against the occupied indigenous population, in a third resolution, the human rights council demands a formal investigation into these violations by the U.N. High Commissioner, in cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Last year, Palestine formally joined the ICC, allowing the state to lodge legal complaints against Israel. According to the resolution, a report on Israel’s compliance will be offered at the council’s 35th meeting in June 2017.

Finally, the council adopted a resolution reaffirming the “[r]ight of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” According to a U.N. press release, this resolution reaffirms “inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” while simultaneously emphasizing the U.N.’s support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

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