World silence on Israeli occupation weakens int’l law: UN report

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Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory “is illegal and indistinguishable from settler-colonialism, which must end as a precondition for the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination,” according to a UN report published on Thursday.

Francesca Albanese, the author of the report and the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, called for the use of correct language and the correct approach in matters relating to the Israeli occupation and support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Speaking during a briefing at the Foreign Press Association in New York, Albanese, a legal scholar and human rights expert, said the report is comprehensive and takes a holistic approach to issues of international law.

It calls for “a paradigm shift” that includes a move away from the narrative of a “conflict” between Israel and Palestine and recognizes the former’s “intentionally acquisitive, segregationist and repressive settler-colonial occupation.”

Albanese also questioned the silence among the international community on the issue. “What does it take for people to see that 55 years of brutality, occupation and boots on the ground is really an occupation,” she said.

This “exceptionality” that has been granted to Israeli authorities, in particular by Western countries, has weakened the force of international law, set a negative precedent and emboldened others to act in defiance of international law on a regular basis, she added.

Albanese criticized Western states for repeated objections to the recognition of the reality of life for Palestinians and the violations of international law by Israel. She described the behaviour of Western states in supporting Israel’s occupation and actions as a form of “brotherhood” and “protectionism.”

“We are still at square zero in terms of advancement and the occupation has become more vicious,” she said, but added: “It cannot last forever; I am confident it will end.”—AN

On the question of whether the treatment of Palestinians by Israeli authorities amounts to a form of apartheid, the report notes that recent studies by reputable scholars and organizations have concluded that the systemic and widespread discriminatory policies and practices applied to Palestinians do amount to the crime of apartheid under international law, and acceptance of this view is slowly growing even though the international community has yet to fully act on it.

“The concept that Israeli occupation meets the legal threshold of apartheid is gaining traction,” according to the report.

However, it adds that limiting the description of the treatment of Palestinians under Israeli occupation to “apartheid” does not convey the full spectrum of the Israeli occupation. The report argues that using only the concept of apartheid “misses the inherent illegality of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.”

It continues: “With few exceptions, the scope of recent reports on Israeli apartheid is primarily ‘territorial’ and excludes the experience of Palestinian refugees.

“The recognition of Israeli apartheid must address the experience of the Palestinian people in its entirety and in their unity as a people, including those who were displaced, denationalized and dispossessed in 1947-1949, many of whom live in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Albanese urged the international community to “formally recognize and condemn the settler-colonial nature of Israeli occupation and demand an immediate end to it.”

She said she has not been able to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli restrictions. Israeli authorities refuse to engage with her mission and the country’s ambassador to the UN has refused all requests for a meeting or communications.

Special rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts within the UN’s human rights system, is the general name for the council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address the situations in specific countries or thematic global issues. Special rapporteurs are independent experts and work on a voluntary basis. They are not members of UN staff and the are not paid for their work.–AN

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