The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) joins the international community in observing the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people 2017’, and underlines the importance and urgency of ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which is the root cause of all systematic violations of their basic human rights, including the fundamental rights of life, worship and freedom of movement. While the world observes this important day, Gaza is still under blockade, and 61% of West Bank is under total occupation and marred by Israeli illegal settlements.
During its recently concluded 12th Regular Session (19-23 November 2017), IPHRC extensively discussed the current situation in Palestine and expressed grave concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation due to continued and increased violence at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces, resulting in extrajudicial executions, home demolitions and other systematic violations against innocent Palestinians, including women and children.
IPHRC warned against continued Israeli attempts to undermine the socio-cultural diversity of occupied Jerusalem, by transforming its physical and demographic landscape to enhance its Jewish character at the expense of its Muslim and Christian identity. The Commission stressed the identity of Al-Aqsa Mosque as a uniquely Islamic holy site and recalled all the UNESCO decisions on the Old City of Al-Quds and its Walls, which deny any Israeli sovereignty over Al-Quds; squarely condemn the excavations being carried out by Israel in the occupied city; and declares as illegal any changes caused by the Israeli occupation in the Old City of Al-Quds and its environs. Based on these well-established pronouncements, the Commission reiterated the absurdity and null and void character of all the illegal texts approved by the Israeli Knesset to unify Al-Quds as the capital of Israel. To this end, the Commission also condemned the repeated closures of Al Aqsa Mosque and affirmed that this act was in contravention of relevant international law instruments including the Fourth Geneva Conventions, with the potential to inflame the religious sentiments of not just Palestinians but Muslims all over the world.
Referring to the latest report on “the legal framework of occupation”, presented by Mr. Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, on 15th November 2017 to the UNGA Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which clearly proves that Israel, the Occupying Power, was in clear breach of its international human rights and humanitarian obligations, the Commission urged the international community to use all appropriate means to force the Israeli Occupation Authorities to end its severe human rights violations. As stated by Mr. Lynk, “criticism without consequences is a recipe for drift and inaction”. All stakeholders must, therefore, intensify efforts and seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, on how to stop and hold Israel accountable for the range of human rights violations, many of which, including extrajudicial killings etc. are considered war crimes.
IPHRC regretted the inaction of the UN Security Council to act despite all recent developments, which indicate that the humanitarian, socioeconomic and security conditions in all Occupied Palestinian territories continue to worsen under Israel’s blatant disregard of International human rights and humanitarian laws. IPHRC also expressed its disappointment on the recent celebrations held by Britain at the occasion of 100 years after Balfour promise was issued, and fully endorsed the OIC-Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolution against the Balfour Promise Celebrations.
On the other hand, the Commission welcomed the approval of the draft resolutions approved in the UNGA Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) earlier this month, reflecting international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlement activities, and the importance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In order to overcome severe funding shortfalls, IPHRC called upon all Member States to explore ways and means to ensure sufficient and predictable funding for UNRWA mandate. IPHRC also welcomed the recent reconciliation agreement between different Palestinian groups and stressed the importance of unity between Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as crucial to strengthening the struggle of Palestinian people against Israeli occupation.
IPHRC reiterated its call on the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council as well as the Quartet to assume their responsibility and to put an end to the repeated, serious and systematic Israeli violations against people, land and sacred places in Occupied Palestinian Territory. In order to have a comprehensive picture of the ongoing state of human rights violations, the Commission is discussing to undergo another visit to Palestine (both West Bank and Gaza) and to present a factual report to the next OIC Council of Foreign Ministers.
The Commission also urged Member States to join the ongoing movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on products coming from Israeli settlements. It also urged OIC Member States to take lead in providing political, economic, and diplomatic support, at all levels, to the Palestinian people in their struggle to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination for the establishment of their own independent, viable and contiguous state, with Al -Quds Al-Shareef as its capital including their unquestionable right to return to their homes and property, as decided in various UN Resolutions, and guaranteed by International law.