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Britain, the Human Rights Council and Israel’s no-cost occupation

March 29, 2017, midnight

According to Ambassador M. Hassassian, “It is enough that Israel gets away with impunity, it is about time that it stop being championed by Britain for its discriminatory policies and brutal occupation.

Last Friday the British government chose to abstain at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on key resolutions pertaining to holding Israel to account for its violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories and for its ongoing illegal settlement building on stolen Palestinian land. In a self-righteous and condescending rhetoric, in its statement justifying its actions, Britain also said that it was ‘putting the Human Rights Council on notice” and will in future vote against all resolutions which seek to rein in Israel’s oppressive and violent practices against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Why? Because it believes the HRC, a long-standing cornerstone of the UN, made up of all world nations, does not play fair when it comes to Israel!

Despite the fact that the UK government has continuously espoused its long-standing commitment to the two-state solution as the way to bring about a just and lasting peace, when it comes to adopting mechanisms in the international arena, as those proposed by the HRC and taking concrete actions, it chooses to do absolutely nothing. It is unwilling, unlike the rest of the international community, to hold Israel to account and try to make it finally pay the price for its illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian land.

This year marks 50 years of Israeli occupation and during those 50 years Israel has failed to abide by a single UN Resolution and continues to unabashedly violate international law. That is why its occupation and human rights abuses are continually on the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

In its statement refusing to censure Israel, Britain also alluded to the disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel at the HRC and highlighted that 30 Israelis had been killed in the past year. The statement was selective in failing to mentioning that Israelis had killed 247 Palestinians in the same period and only referred the ‘negative trend’ of Israeli ‘conduct’ in the occupied Palestinian territories. This negative trend encompasses the seizure of Palestinian land, thousands of arbitrary arrests and detentions, including those of children, extrajudicial executions, two murderous attacks on the Palestinian population in Gaza and unabated state violence against the civilian Palestinian population, not to mention the fanatical aggression of extreme Israeli settler groups.

If Israel professes itself a liberal democracy and part of a family of nations which respects universal human rights, it is correct that it should come under the most severe censure from the Human Rights Council when it demonstrates, in all it does, that those universal rights are not applicable to the Palestinians who suffer daily under its brutal occupation.

It is time for Britain to take decisive steps and meaningful action alongside the rest of the international community to make Israel understand that it is not exceptional and must abide by international law if it wants to be regarded as a democratically mature country. It is time, moreover, for Britain to start to talk about the security of the Palestinians, the value of the lives of Palestinian men, women and children, who have no protection against the discriminatory and inhumane practices of the state of Israel and its violent military, police force and settler extremists.

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