“I don’t know when there was last a resolution put to the Security Council that only got one vote in favor.”
— Al Jazeera correspondent James Bays
The United States has voted against a Kuwait-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the protection of Palestinian civilians, while being the only country to back its own measure condemning Hamas for the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces during weeks-long peaceful protests in the besieged Gaza Strip near the fence with Israel. Among the victims have been medical professionals and journalists.
Ten countries, including Russia and France, voted in favour of the Kuwait-sponsored resolution on Friday.
Four others — Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ethiopia — abstained, while the US, a major ally of Israel, was the only country to vote against it.
“Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights.”
Palestinian diplomats in Geneva have filed a complaint against Israel for what they say are breaches of its obligations under a UN anti-racism treaty, triggering what may be a lengthy and high-profile investigation.
The complaint, handed in by the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Khraishi, to the body that monitors the implementation of the UN convention, accuses Israel of policies and practices that have “the common aim of displacing and replacing the Palestinian people, for the purpose of maintaining a colonial occupation.”
Violations in the occupied territories, which the complaint defined as the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, sought to maintain “a Jewish demographic majority in the entirety of historic Palestine,” claims the 350-page document, of which the Guardian has seen a summary.
Europe told us that only after we Palestinians endorsed non-violence and the 1967 borders would they act on our behalf. We did. Now they refuse to act, because of pressure from a rogue state — America.
By refusing to work with the only established international order to assert Palestinian rights [the United Nations Human Rights Council], the Israeli government gets carte blanche to continue colonizing Palestinian land, while the Palestinian people get the message that international law and diplomacy are useless in their quest for freedom, justice and independence.
This is actually happening. European countries, members of the European Union, itself birthed out of the ashes of the last century’s unprecedented atrocities, are currently putting pressure on Palestine not to demand its rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
This Friday, four resolutions on Palestine will be voted on, and some European countries are concerned about the political implications of any calls to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of international law.
The very international legal standards Palestine clings to — self-determination, non-acquisition of territory through force, and equality — are the bedrock of the European project.
“Half a century of occupation has taken a heavy toll on the human rights of virtually every Palestinian, regardless of where in the occupied territory they reside. The feelings of despair among Palestinians in the face of these developments cannot be overstated. . . . [Human rights violations include] home demolitions and forced evictions, restricted access to services, threats of violence — including violence at the hands of settlers — restrictions on freedom of movement, and a strict residency regime for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.”
— Kate Gilmore, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights
United Nations officials condemned the continued arbitrary detention of Palestinian children by Israel saying the practice has become “systematic and widely spread.”
A series of UN reports presented at the Human Rights Council shows how the living conditions of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza have dramatically worsened over the past year, and how children are bearing the brunt of the Israeli occupation, said Kate Gilmore, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights.
ÆThe past year saw hundreds of Palestinian children detained by Israel, some without charge under administrative detention,Æ Gilmore said, addressing the council in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The impact of the conflict on the lives of children is entirely unacceptable. In this year alone, six children have been shot and killed in the context of protests.”
Inspired by South Africa’s freedom struggle, BDS aims to mobilize people all over the world to do what governments won’t — apply pressure on Israel until it respects all the rights of the Palestinian people.
A year ago, the UN published a landmark report on Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. It found “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid.”
This was no rash conclusion, but one the authors reached after meticulous analysis of the evidence and law — especially the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
Palestinians hailed the report as a milestone in their struggle to see Israel held accountable for its brutal, decades long denial of their rights. But Israel’s powerful patrons had other plans. Immediately, the US government, Israel’s biggest arms supplier, began to threaten the United Nations.
Jerusalem enjoys an annual “capital grant” from the [Israeli Finance Ministry] that helps it offset low tax revenue due to large populations with relatively high percentages that are not part of the taxpaying workforce, including roughly a third of the city’s population that is made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews and another third of Palestinian Arabs.
The Jerusalem municipality has handed out fines totaling millions of dollars to properties owned by the United Nations and by churches, citing a new legal opinion that says the properties are not legally defined as places of worship and therefore aren’t entitled to exemptions from property tax.
The step appeared to be an escalation of a dispute between the municipality and the Finance Ministry over funds. Mayor Nir Barkat has been conducting a high-profile campaign against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that included instructing workers to dump trash at the entrance to the ministry offices in Jerusalem and threatening to lay off more than 2,000 city employees.
“Abu Nuwar is one of the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance in the occupied West Bank. The conditions it faces also represent those of many Palestinian communities, where a combination of Israeli policies and practices — including demolitions and restricted access to basic services, such as education — have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents and generates a risk of forcible transfer.”
— Roberto Valent, United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories
United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Roberto Valent, said on Sunday that he was deeply concerned by Israel’s destruction of donor-funded classrooms in the Palestinian community of Abu Nuwar, east of Jerusalem.
“I am deeply concerned by the Israeli authorities’ demolition this morning of two donor-funded classrooms (3rd and 4th grade), serving 26 Palestinian school children in the Bedouin and refugee community of Abu Nuwar, located in Area C on the outskirts of Jerusalem,” Valent said in a statement. “The demolition was carried out on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.”
“For a lot of Palestinian refugees the UNRWA is the last life buoy. With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalization and extreme violence.”
—Alexander De Croo, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister
Belgium has pledged to donate 19m euro ($23m) to UNRWA, the UN’s aid organization for Palestinian refugees, after the US government announced it would slash its funding to the agency by half.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement on Wednesday that Brussels would allocate the funds over three years.
The first annual payment is being disbursed immediately “considering the financial difficulties that UNRWA currently faces,” the statement said.
Washington announced on Tuesday it is withholding $65m out of the $125m aid package earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, or UNRWA.
“At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The reduced contribution also impacts regional security at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalization.”
— Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General
The head of the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees appealed on Wednesday for world donations after the United States withheld about half its planned funding for the organization, a move he said risks instability in the region.
Washington said on Tuesday it would provide $60 million to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency while keeping back a further $65 million for now. The US State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.
Palestinians, already angered by US President Donald Trump’s Dec 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, denounced the decision, which could deepen hardship in the Gaza Strip where UNRWA helps much of its population of 2 million.
“We are extremely worried. We support 1 million people with food. . . . [We] just hope we have enough time to persuade them to change their mind and/or to find another donor.”
— Matthias Schmale, UNRWA Gaza Director
The UN Relief and Works Agency, the main body providing aid to millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East, made an urgent appeal for international support Wednesday, one day after the State Department announced that it will slash its annual funding.
“After decades of generous support, dramatic reduction of US funding to @UNRWA results in most critical financial situation in history of Agency,” the agency’s commissioner general, Pierre Krähenbühl, wrote on Twitter. “I call on member states of the United Nations to take a stand & demonstrate to Palestine Refugees that their rights & future matter.”
In a more detailed statement to the media, Krähenbühl said the U.S. contribution of $60 million, less than half of a planned $125 million installment, is “dramatically below past levels” and jeopardizes the “dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support.”