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Al Mezan Concludes Participation at UN Human Rights Council 43rd-44th Sessions at Critical Time for Palestinian Human Rights; Amid Weak Showing on Accountability Resolution, Reiterates Urgent Call on States to Meet Obligations

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territoire Palestinien occupé
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Al Mezan
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Al Mezan has concluded its collaborative efforts with civil society at the UN Human Rights Council’s 43rd and 44th sessions in Geneva last week by calling for the Council and its Member States to acknowledge and counter Israel’s systematic, deep rooted policies and practices that violate international law.

With the threat of formal annexation of the occupied West Bank looming, Al Mezan and partners urged the UN and international community to call for the dismantling of all settlements and to vehemently oppose any annexation, as it would “normalize Israel’s colonial project and apartheid regime via the continued expansion and construction of illegal settlements, displacement and dispossession of Palestinians, and demographic manipulation.”[1] The statement was part of a series in which Al Mezan and partners condemned Israeli policies of racial discrimination, annexation[2] and apartheid[3].

Al Mezan took the floor on behalf of 43 organizations from around the world to call on “States to live up to their responsibility to bring Israel’s illegal closure of Gaza to an end and to uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and return.”[4] Al Mezan and partners had submitted a report to the Council addressing Israel’s collective punishment measures on Gaza,[5] and in a second statement on the issue[6] highlighted the array of discriminatory policies and practices that Israel maintains to punish Palestinians, including house demolition, residency revocation, mass arbitrary detention, withholding bodies, closures and movement restrictions, and denial of work and medical permits.

Al Mezan and partners welcomed[7] the report of the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), in which he considered Israel’s reliance on collective punishment a “prominent instrument in its coercive toolbox of population control.”[8] Speaking in a webinar series on the same subject, Al Mezan highlighted the impact of the Gaza closure and related de-development practices on Gaza, including on the fishing and agricultural communities, that are particularly vulnerable.[9] A joint appeal submitted to UN Special Procedures called for access to medical care of Gaza’s patients, another community made extremely vulnerable by Israel’s closure.[10]

An exceptional urgent debate on racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests was prompted by circumstances in the US and drew parallels to the deep rooted, systematic racial violence against Palestinians. Al Mezan, Al-Haq and other organizations expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and condemned Israel’s systematic racial supremacy and domination over the Palestinian people,[11] which is manifested in inter alia Israel’s unlawful and excessive use of force, that was on full display during the session in the killing of Iyad Al-Hallaq by Israeli border police in occupied East Jerusalem. Following the submission of an urgent appeal to UN Special Procedures on the extrajudicial killing of Ahmed Erekat,[12] Al Mezan endorsed the statement made by his mother, Ms. Najah Erekat, to the Council, in which she demanded the return of her son’s body that is being unlawfully and punitively held by the Israeli authorities.[13]

In a statement led by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Al Mezan joined dozens of organizations in commending the High Commissioner for the initial release of the report on the database of businesses involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise and addressed its importance as a corporate accountability tool for the human rights violations in the oPt. The organizations called on the High Commissioner’s Office to ensure that the database is updated annually and made publicly accessible.[14]

Following a weak showing, notably by EU states, on the resolution Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the [oPt], including East Jerusalem, Al Mezan, Adalah and partner organizations affirmed that “Israel upholds a policy of total impunity in the exercise of its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for committing serious crimes against Palestinians.”[15] The international community’s failure to hold Israel to account not only perpetuates its system of impunity but allows for the continued commission of serious violations of international law. Notably, of EU States, only Spain voted in favor of the successful resolution, while Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Hungary voted against it, and Denmark, Croatia, Italy and the United Kingdom abstained. The voting displayed a lack of conviction to seriously address the escalation of threats against the Palestinian people, including of formal annexation.

A joint comprehensive report on accountability was submitted to the Special Rapporteur on the oPt by Al Mezan and partners; the report detailed the legal obligations of states to hold Israel accountable and to induce its compliance with international law.[16]

Al Mezan reiterates the deep concern of the African Group for “the lack of protection of the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation” and reiterates that “the international community cannot continue absolving Israel of its responsibility for its violations [and] other acts causing suffering”.[17]

[1] See the statement led by Al-Haq here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23770
[2] See the statement led by CIHRS here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23758
[3] See the joint written submission here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23685
[4] See the statement led by Al Mezan here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23757 and another led by CIHRS here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23779
[5] See the joint written submission here: http://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/15916863711280.pdf
[6] See the statement here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23774 and the video here: http://webtv.un.org/search/id-sr-on-palestinian-territories-26th-meeting-44th-regular-session-human-rights-council-/6172106935001/#t=1h35m51s
[7] See the joint press release here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23776
[8] See the report here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session44/Documents/A_HRC_44_60.pdf
9] See the press release and link for the webinar here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23777
[10] See the appeal here: http://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/15933280981442.pdf
[11] See the statement led by Al-Haq here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23759
[12] See the joint urgent appeal on Ahmed Erekat’s killing to UN Special Procedures here: http://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/15947128341821.pdf
[13] See the statement delivered by Ms. Najah Erekat here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23773
[14] See the statement led by CIHRS here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23756
[15] See the statement led by Adalah here: http://mezan.org/en/post/23778
[16] See the report here: http://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/159117061414.pdf
[17] See the video of the statement here: http://webtv.un.org/search/id-sr-on-palestinian-territories-26th-meeting-44th-regular-session-human-rights-council-/6172106935001/#player