REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

European States should adopt a Consistent Approach toward Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Palestine during Human Rights Council Session 49

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program, United Nations Human Rights Council by CIHRS

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and partners in Europe and Palestine wrote to key European Union (EU) institutions and Member States[1] and the United Kingdom (UK), urging them to uphold the rule of international law and human rights for the Palestinian people at the current 49th regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. The letters noted the EU’s priorities in the UN Human Rights Fora in 2022, namely its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and the rule of law “consistently and coherently in all areas of its external actions” as well as the UK’s commitment to defend the rights and freedoms of the most oppressed and vulnerable around the world. The letters called on the states to reaffirm their longstanding commitment to international law and human rights standards by voting in favour of the three resolutions under agenda items 2 and 7 pertaining to accountability, human rights, illegal Israeli settlements, and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

CIHRS and partners urged the states to recognise and condemn the reality of Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people and all associated violations. The organisations also called on states to acknowledge, welcome and engage with the content of the final upcoming report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt during the session, which will examine the crime of apartheid. In addition, CIHRS and partners called on states to support all existing relevant international accountability mechanisms, namely the UN Commission of Inquiry established in April 2021 and the UN database of businesses involved in Israel’s settlement enterprise – as a means to end the ongoing cycle of impunity granted to Israel.

Given Israel’s unsubstantiated designation of six prominent Palestinian human rights and humanitarian organisations as “terrorist” and “unlawful”, CIHRS and partners urged states to call on Israel to immediately revoke these designations and to ensure the continuity and protection of Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders. Furthermore, the communications urged states to call on Israel to immediately stop its annexation of Palestinian land and the expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise in occupied territory, cease the forcible transfer and displacement of protected persons, and end its policy of administrative detention and release all Palestinian political prisoners. During this Council session, the international community must urge Israel to immediately, fully and unconditionally lift its prolonged illegal closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip.


[1] The countries are: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. In addition, a separate letter was sent to the EU delegations in Geneva, Brussels and Jerusalem.

H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Re: Support for Palestinian rights and international law at the 49th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council

The undersigned organisations present the following key messages and recommendations on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)/Israel to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of [State], in light of the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). The letter takes note of the EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora in 2022, namely the EU’s commitment to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and the rule of law “consistently and coherently in all areas of its external action”.

We urge [State] to support the three resolutions under agenda items 2 and 7, presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at HRC 49. The resolutions, covering accountability, human rights, illegal Israeli settlements, and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, provide an opportunity for [State] to meaningfully reaffirm its longstanding commitment to international law and human rights standards, universally and away from exceptionalism.

Supporting accountability at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

During HRC 49, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt will present his final report to the Council. We strongly encourage [State] to acknowledge, welcome and engage with the content of the Special Rapporteur’s timely report, which is anticipated to address root causes of Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, namely Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people, which drive the continuously worsening human rights situation in the oPt/Israel.

In recent years, there has been mounting recognition that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid by UN treaty bodies, UN Special Procedures, and UN member states. A growing number of civil society actors, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have highlighted Israel’s institutional discrimination against the Palestinian people as amounting to the crime of apartheid. We urge [State] to recognise this reality, including in its statements during HRC 49, and to call on Israel to abolish all discriminatory laws, policies and practices.

The ongoing grave violations of international law against the Palestinian people are enabled by the continued failure of the international community, including the EU and its Member States, to hold Israel accountable. In May 2021, all European state members of the HRC abstained from voting on a historical resolution establishing an ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the oPt and Israel from April 2021. It is incumbent upon UN Member States to ensure that all HRC-mandated mechanisms are implemented without political interference or obstruction and that these mechanisms are allocated the required resources to fulfil their mandates. We therefore call on [State] to express support for the CoI during HRC 49, and to support the annual updating of the UN database of businesses involved in Israel’s illegal settlements as originally mandated by HRC resolution 31/36 of 2016. Such mechanisms, founded on international law, are necessary to dismantling the ongoing systemic oppression in the oPt/Israel and to ensure accountability and justice.

Support for Palestinian civil society organisations

Following Israel’s most recent unsubstantiated designation of six prominent Palestinian human rights and humanitarian organisations as “terrorist” and “unlawful”, we urge [State] to voice support for Palestinian civil society by calling on Israel to immediately revoke the designations, as France recently did. These designations are the culmination of a years-long, aggressive Israeli campaign seeking to defame, delegitimize, silence and demobilize civil society and UN bodies working to promote human rights for the Palestinian people and pursuing international accountability mechanisms. Such attacks, targeting world-renowned civil society, amount to political persecution that must be unequivocally rejected by the international community. It is imperative that [State] reject these politically-motivated designations without further delay to ensure the continuity and protection of Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders.

Opposing settlements, administrative detention, and the blockade of Gaza

Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands has accelerated dramatically, allowing for unlawful settlement expansion. Meanwhile, Palestinians – especially in Area C and Jerusalem – have been increasingly subjected to house demolitions, evictions, forcible transfer and displacement. This unlawful conduct is accompanied by an increase in the scale and gravity of settler violence and harassment targeting Palestinians, which is facilitated and encouraged by the State of Israel and its military. In July 2021, the Israeli government made public its plan to thwart any attempt by the Palestinian Authority, civil society and the international community to maintain Palestinian presence in Area C, further entrenching its annexation of the occupied West Bank.

In line with the international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements and associated violations and grave breaches, we urge [State] to call on Israel to take all necessary measures to immediately stop its annexation and illegal settlement enterprise, dismantle existing settlements, cease the forcible transfer and displacement of protected persons from occupied territory, and afford protection and access to effective remedy against settler violence and attacks. Here it is important to note the European Citizen’s Initiative calling for a law at a European level to end trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories such as the oPt.

Since January 2022, the 500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel’s administrative detention – without charge or trial – have boycotted Israel’s military courts in protest of the use of administrative detention to suppress Palestinian human rights defenders, students, political activists and children, and to restrict their exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association. During HRC 49, we urge [State] to demand that Israel end its policy of administrative detention and release all political prisoners and human rights defenders in its custody, including Ms. Shatha Odeh Director of the Health Work Committees (HWC). Amal Nakhleh is yet another case that further demonstrates that no one is exempt from Israel’s arbitrary policy of administrative detention and deliberate medical neglect for those with grave health conditions. In this regard, Israel must respect international human rights and humanitarian law.

Lastly, we call on [State] to urge Israel to immediately, fully and unconditionally lift its prolonged illegal closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, and end all associated unlawful restrictions imposed on the movement of people and goods, which have denied the basic rights of over two million Palestinians, including the rights to life, water, food, and health.

On behalf of the undersigned, we wish to request a meeting with your office to further discuss the aforementioned issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the oPt/Israel at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

This post is also available in: العربية

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