Item 7 General Debate
(Human Rights Watch) – As Israeli authorities expand settlements at an “unprecedented high level,” in the words of a recent European Union report, it is more urgent than ever that the High Commissioner for Human Rights release the long-awaited report on the database of businesses facilitating illegal Israeli settlements. Settlements are at the root of serious, systematic violations of Palestinian rights, undermining their livelihoods and economy.
The disappointing further delay in publishing the database further entrenches corporate involvement in the abuses stemming from illegal settlements, in violation of their own responsibilities to avoid such complicity. The High Commissioner has a responsibility to fulfil the mandate entrusted to her by the Human Rights Council and commit to a clear date for publishing this vital report. We note that the High Commissioner has confirmed that the report will be published “in coming months,” and we encourage her to take all steps necessary to ensure it is available for consideration by the Council at its June session. States should support publication as a measure of transparency in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and to reaffirm the international consensus on the illegality of settlements.
In addition, the Human Rights Council should ensure appropriate follow-up to the conclusion of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza Protests that members of the Israeli security forces and their commanders may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. We encourage the High Commissioner to give the International Criminal Court prosecutor access to information about alleged perpetrators shared with her office by the Commission of Inquiry. This includes material about any officials who issued unlawful open-fire orders sanctioning the firing on protesters who posed no imminent mortal danger, who bear direct criminal liability, so they can face possible criminal prosecution. The High Commissioner should also share this information with credible national judicial authorities, so they can pursue appropriate crimes under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
States should also suspend assistance to the agencies within the Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces that are systematically arresting and torturing critics and opponents, as Human Rights Watch recently reported. Not a single security officer was convicted for these abuses in 2016 and 2017, the latest years for which we have data. These abuses will continue so long as impunity remains the norm.
Finally, we note that for the first time, the lead sponsors have tabled the accountability resolution under item 2 (relating to the work of the High Commissioner) rather than item 7 (relating to the human rights situation in the OPT). The onus is now on those states that have used item 7 as a shield for refusing to support the resolution, most notably certain members of the European Union, to demonstrate they were acting in good faith by now supporting the resolution on its merits.
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