vrijdag 23 maart 2012
UN Human Rights Council wants probe of the settlements
The United Nations launched an international investigation on Thursday into Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, with the United States isolated in voting against the initiative brought by the Palestinian Authority.
The UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel's planned construction of new housing units for settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.
The 47-member forum adopted the resolution to launch a probe by a vote of 36 states in favor, including China and Russia, with one against (the United States). Ten abstained, including European Union members the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Poland Italy and Spain.
The text was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and co-sponsored by states including Cuba and Venezuela. ''In violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, Israel is continuing construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem," Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram told the talks. The resolution called on Israel to take serious measures to prevent settler violence "including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions", and protection of Palestinian civilians and property in the territories.
The three investigators are to be named at a later date.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, swiftly dismissed the Geneva forum as "hypocritical" and having an "automatic majority against Israel". "This is a council that should be ashamed of itself. The UN Human Rights Council has no connection to human rights," Netanyahu said. The Prime Minister added that out of 91 decisions made by the UN body to date, 39 dealt with Israel. "Only three of the decisions dealt with Syria, and only one with Iran. A source in Netanyahu's office said Israel would not cooperate with the investigation.
The U.S. ambassador to the UN in Geneva said that the decision harmed efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and would not help protect the human rights of Israelis and Palestinians. "We don't accept the legitimacy of construction in the settlements, but we are disturbed by this one-sided and biased decision," she said.
The adoption of the resolution came after a debate on the human rights situation in the West Bank and other occupied Arab territories that started on 19 March.
On the dame day the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a report about the use of water wells in the West Bank, which was conducted in the course of last year. The survey identified a total of 56 water springs close to the Israeli settlements, the majority of which are located in Area C. and on land parcels recorded by the Israeli Civil Administration as privately owned by Palestinians.The report concluded that 30 of these springs are under full settler control. In 22 of the cases Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers, while in the eight springs under full settler control, Palestinian access has been prevented by physical obstacles, including the fencing of the spring area, and its “de facto annexation” to the settlement.
“Despite the decline in their yield, springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock,” the report says. To a lesser extent, springs are also a source of water for domestic consumption for Palestinians