´Int´l court must act on Palestinian prisoner issue´ (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 07/03/12)
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The International Court of Justice at the Hague should be asked to
issue an advisory opinion on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian
prisoners and on the special nature of Israel’s
prolonged “occupation” of Palestinian territory, United Nations
special rapporteur Richard Falk said on Monday.
He made his statement, as part of a 16-page report on Israel’s
treatment of Palestinians that he delivered to the UN Human Rights
Council, which is holding its 20th session in Geneva through July 6.
The UNHRC spent most of Monday debating Israel’s actions in the West
Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It did so through a
mechanism known as Item 7, under which a portion of every council
session is devoted to Israeli actions against Palestinians.
“Support [should] be given for a request to the International Court
of Justice for an advisory opinion on the Israeli practice of
transferring detained Palestinians to prisons in Israel, denying
normal visitation rights,” Falk said.
He added that such an advisory opinion should be “possibly joined to
a request for legal clarification of the special character of
prolonged belligerent occupation.”
He added that he asked the UNHRC to commission a study to examine if
international law adequately covered situations of prolonged
occupation. It should also commission a second study on Israel’s use
of administrative detention against Palestinians, Falk said. He also
asked the UNHRC to censure Israel on this issue.
The UNHRC should take “emergency notice” of legislative attempts by
Israel this spring to legalize West Bank outposts. Such action, he
said, increases Israeli claims to Palestinian land and undermines the
Palestinian right to self-determination.
He also asked the council to pay increased attention to Israel’s
refusal to cooperate with his work on the council’s behalf. This
refusal, he told the council, undermined its stature and legitimacy.
The report touched on wide-ranging topics, including administrative
detention of Palestinians, Israeli settlement activity and settler
violence against Palestinians and Israeli military actions in Gaza.
Israel’s military retaliation against Palestinians rocket fire from
Gaza is not justified, Falk said.
“Israel continues to rely on excessive or disproportionate use of
force in Gaza,” he said.
“There is a renewed urgency for the international community to
respond to these developments,” he said.
He said that international intervention was needed, and that those
who call for it in Syria, should do so here as well.
“If the responsibility to protect is to attain legitimacy as an
application of international law, it must be applicable everywhere,
in particular the situation of prolonged occupation that prevails in
the occupied Palestinian territory.
Otherwise, the responsibility to protect will be discredited due to
selective application,” he said.
Israel, which has cut off ties with the council, was not present
during the discussion.
It also has refused to cooperate with Falk, who has been the special
rapporteur for the council on the situation of human rights in the
Palestinian territories since 2008.
A professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University,
Falk is an outspoken critic of Israeli actions in the West Bank and
In the past, he has compared Israeli policies toward the Palestinians
with the actions of Nazis toward the Jews during the Holocaust.
But after the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor
said, “Once again, the UNHRC distinguishes itself with
phantasmagorical statements that pander to the interests of the
dictatorships, which manipulate the council. From the people who have
bestowed human rights honors on the likes of Gaddafi, Castro and
Assad, nothing can surprise anymore. This is yet another sad proof
that the UNHRC leaves boycott as the only possible interface with its
Western countries were largely absent from the debate that followed,
which included countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Cuba,
Libya, Bahrain and Turkey, all of whom condemned Israeli actions
against the Palestinians.
The Palestinian representative accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and
of instigating racism and hatred against his people.
It asked Falk to state how such actions and Israel’s failure to
comply with international law reflect on “Israel’s membership to
Norway, the Russian Federation and Cyprus, which spoke on behalf of
the European Union, issued more measured and balanced statements.
But only the United States condemned the council itself. Its
Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said her
country, “continues to be deeply troubled by this council’s biased
and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by this standing
“The effectiveness and legitimacy of this council can never be
complete as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out
for its own agenda item,” she added. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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