Updating the Palestinian Rights Committee on recent developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the observer for the State of Palestine today cautioned that the international community’s inaction, blanket support from the United States President and hate speech by Israeli politicians in the run‑up to Israel’s presidential elections in April has emboldened the occupying Power.
Briefing the Committee — known formally as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People — Feda Abdelhady‑Nasser underscored that, as had been conveyed during a Security Council meeting on the matter two days ago, the situation in the Territory has continued to decline and the paralysis of the Council is due to the obstruction of one member whose complicity with Israel has strengthened the occupation.
Two reports — one by the Commission of Inquiry of the Human Rights Council on the 2018 protests in Gaza, which highlighted civilian casualties, and a Secretary‑General report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) — reflected “a sharp escalation of Israel’s policies”, she said. The Commission of Inquiry had concluded that there were grounds to believe, with the exception of two incidents, that the use of live ammunition by Israel in 2018 against Palestinian demonstrators was unlawful.
Ongoing human rights violations against the Palestinians have become more flagrant, as Israel believes it can avoid accountability, she said. In Gaza, more people are suffering and despair has deepened. Air strikes in the past week, alongside escalating threats and rhetoric, have added to the combustibility of the situation. Israel should be held accountable for its violations, as “only accountability can deter such violations and open a path towards a peaceful solution to the conflict,” she stressed.
Turning to the situation in East Jerusalem, she said that settlement activities have sharply increased, which have resulted in the killing of more Palestinian civilians, including a young paramedic in Bethlehem on Wednesday.
Israel also has illegally withheld Palestinian tax revenues, destabilizing the economic situation and leading to austerity measures. She urged the Committee to appeal for international efforts to address this ongoing illegality and requested that its members participate in the United Nations Forum on the Question of Palestine, to be held in New York on 4 April 2019, as well as the Security Council’s next quarterly debate on the matter.
Highlighting the Committee’s upcoming activities, Cheikh Niang (Senegal), Committee Chair, cited, among other events, its participation in “Palestine Day on the Hill” on 1 April in Ottawa.
Carmelo Inguanez (Malta), Committee Rapporteur, provided a briefing on the Committee’s recent visit to Brussels, from 4 to 6 March, to meet with Belgian and European Union officials, parliamentarians and solidarity groups. During the visit, the delegation appealed to the European Union to be proactive within the existing parameters of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict — without waiting for the United States’ peace plan — by playing a more active role within the Middle East Quartet, and for Union members to recognize the State of Palestine as a way to promote the peace process. The delegation also sought the European Union’s support to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and to implement the European Union policy of differentiation regarding products imported from Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — as called for by Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). Discussions on the policy were well received, he said.
The representative of Cuba said that the Committee must continue knocking at the door of the European Union and other countries to see what they can contribute to the Committee’s work and mission.
The Committee also heard updates from Member States on their activities related to the question of Palestine. Adela Raz (Afghanistan), elected at the beginning of the meeting as the Committee’s Vice‑Chair, said that although Afghanistan is a small country still experiencing conflict, it supports the cause of the Palestinian people and has committed $1 million to Palestinian refugees. Indonesia’s representative said that his Government has committed $1 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Malta.