CIHRS Oral Intervention before HRC 11th session about Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

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Human Rights Council-  11th Session
Agenda Item 7- Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab Territories
Oral Intervention

15 June, 2009
Delivered by Jeremie D. Smith

Thank you Mr. President,

In May 2009 a seminal study was released entitled “Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.”     The report was conducted under the auspices of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, and carried out over a two year period by imminent legal scholars, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations from around the world.  The purpose of the report was to examine in a legalistic non-politicized manner the question raised before this Council in a report by the former Special Rapporteur on the OPTs, John Dugard, in January 2007:

“What are the legal consequences of a regime of prolonged occupation with features of colonialism
and apartheid for the occupied people, the Occupying Power and third States?”

The exhaustive 300 page report concludes “that Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which
implements a system of apartheid.”

The study concludes that Israel’s settlement and territorial acquisition of the OPT constitutes colonialism, and “demonstrates that the implementation of a colonial policy by Israel has not been piecemeal but is systematic and comprehensive, as the exercise of the Palestinian population’s right to self-determination has been frustrated in all of its principal modes of expression.”

It also concludes that the “State of Israel exercises control in the OPT with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid.”

Acting on these findings  the report recommends “ in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and pursuant to Article 65 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, an advisory opinion be urgently requested on the following question:  Do the policies and practices of Israel within the Occupied Palestinian Territories violate the norms prohibiting apartheid and colonialism; and, if so, what are the legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices…?”

In light of both the recent grave breaches of international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, and the continued refusal of Israel to halt the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, as highlighted in the speech of Israel’s Prime Minister yesterday, CIHRS calls on the OHCHR, this Council, individual member states of the United Nations, and all civil society actors to make it a matter of priority to ensure that this recommendation is carried out by the UN General Assembly.

Thank you Mr. President

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