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OPT/Israel: States should support work of UN Commission of Inquiry, take action to dismantle apartheid

HRW statement – Item 2 Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the OPT/Israel – HRC50

For 15 years, Israeli authorities have imposed sweeping restrictions on the movement of people into and out of the Gaza Strip. © 2016 Ain Media

We thank the Commission of Inquiry for your important first report and are disappointed that the government of Israel refuses to cooperate with your mandate.

In recent weeks, governments worldwide, including the US, have called for an independent investigation into, and accountability for, the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla.

Abu Aqla’s killing reflects the importance of your mandate to address impunity and the “underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict.” It is regrettable that instead of supporting your efforts, some states, led by the US, have chosen to denigrate your mandate and this Council through exaggerated and inaccurate claims, continuing a long-standing pattern of attempting to shield the Israeli government from scrutiny rather than holding it accountable for its international violations.

The first step to addressing a problem is to diagnose it correctly. We share the assessment of the Special Rapporteur that “an unrelenting occupation has metastasized into apartheid,” and we welcome the growing international consensus in support of this conclusion.

Western states should put politics aside, discard stale talking points that bear little relation to the reality of structural repression on the ground, and address the human rights situation on its merits. The root causes of recurrent tensions, including the occupation and the Israeli government’s policies and practices that result in apartheid and persecution, are ongoing, which is why an ongoing mandate is needed.

As more and more voices recognize the reality of apartheid for millions of Palestinians, the choice for states is clear: bury your head in the sand and fail to uniformly defend international law and human rights, undermining your credibility in advocating for those same principles in other contexts, or recognize reality for what it is and take action to dismantle apartheid.

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