At a moment of increased violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the new Israeli government threatening even further annexation, the international community must take firm and principled action to protect the human rights and dignity of Palestinians, a UN expert said today.
“The wave of deadly violence sweeping through the occupied West Bank since the beginning of this year is the inexorable consequence of an acquisitive and repressive occupation with no end in sight, and the culture of lawlessness and impunity Israel has nurtured and enjoyed,” said Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Israeli violence, including the deadly raid operations in Jenin refugee camp on 26 January, in the old city of Nablus on 22 February, and Jericho on 1 March have left a devastating toll of 80 Palestinians dead and over 2,000 wounded in less than 90 days. During the same period, 13 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. Israel’s deliberate and systemic destruction of homes, civilian infrastructure and property amidst hostile anti-Palestinian rhetoric and declared plans to further annex Palestinian lands, has compounded the sense of despair of the occupied population.
“Every loss of life, whether Palestinian or Israeli, is a tragic reminder of the price people pay for not addressing pervasive injustice and its root causes,” the Special Rapporteur said.
The international community has witnessed decades of record-high numbers of Palestinian deaths and injuries in the occupied territory. Meanwhile, Palestinians have also endured confinement, land confiscation, home demolitions, fragmentation, discriminatory law enforcement, mass incarceration and other countless abuses, indignities and humiliations, the expert said.
“Israel, emboldened by a lack of meaningful intervention, has consolidated its acquisitive and repressive occupation, with Member States offering little more than symbolic condemnation, humanitarians providing band-aid aid, and legal scholars entangled in theoretical debates,” Albanese said.
The Special Rapporteur urged the UN to move beyond simply counting casualties and calling for restraint. “The organisation cannot indulge in the condescending acceptance of an irresolvable “conflict” and the myth of conflicting narratives, and in urging the ‘parties’ to ‘de-escalate tensions’ and ‘resume negotiations’,” Albanese said. “In reality, there are no equal parties nor a proper ‘conflict,’ but rather an oppressive regime that threatens the right of an entire people to exist.”
“Tolerating annexation would legitimise aggression, bringing international law back almost a century: this is the reality the international community must stop immediately and reverse.”
“To maintain its credibility and purpose, the UN must acknowledge that conflicting narratives and historical facts must be resolved through the lens of legality and justice, and work effectively to oppose any forms of annexation of occupied territory, realise the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and terminate the apartheid regime Israel is enforcing upon them,” the expert said.
“As ‘We the peoples of the United Nations,’ we must not remain silent in the face of egregious violations. The international community must recommit to the ideals of the UN Charter, in the interest of both Palestinians and Israelis,” the Special Rapporteur said.
Albanese is briefing Member States and other stakeholders on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination today at 12:00 pm CEST, at Palais des Nations, Room XXII. The event is open online.