The main UN human rights body is due to meet to discuss launching an investigation into “systematic discrimination and repression” in Israel and Palestine, with the aim of identifying what he claimed to be the root causes of the recent bloodshed in Gaza.
A draft proposal that calls for unprecedented levels of scrutiny of alleged abuses, called for at the request of Muslim states, will be submitted to the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.
Opening the session in Geneva, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Israel’s attacks on Gaza this month could constitute war crimes if deemed disproportionate, and accused Hamas of having fired indiscriminate rockets at Israel.
Eleven days of the worst fighting in years killed more than 250 people in Gaza, including 66 children, and 12 in Israel, including two children.
However, according to a draft resolution, seen by the Guardian ahead of Thursday’s vote, the UN agency will urgently call for the establishment of a commission to investigate all “violations”, not only in Gaza but also in Gaza. West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel.
The text said the commission would investigate “all the underlying root causes of the recurring tensions, instability and prolongation of the conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious”.
Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, criticized the body.
Their only goal, she said Wednesday, was “to blame Israel, to whitewash the crimes committed by Hamas, and for the Palestinian Authority to avoid assuming its responsibilities to its own people.”
The commission is following the steps taken by some diplomats and international bodies to reframe the crisis amid an evolving global debate on racism and to present the violence in the context of the control that Israel has for decades exercised over millions of Palestinians. .
On Sunday, France’s foreign minister said the status quo would lead to a “risk of apartheid,” a charge that has been made widely by activists and rights groups rather than governments.
On Wednesday, the Irish government backed a motion condemning Israel’s “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land in what it said was the first use of the term by an EU government in relation to Israel.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney described what he called Israel’s “manifestly unequal” treatment of the Palestinian people. He added that “the strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind it have brought us to a point where we have to be honest about what is really happening on the ground.”
Israel has firmly denied apartheid allegations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat tweeted that “Ireland’s scandalous and baseless position” reflected “a manifestly one-sided and simplistic policy”.
The French and Irish statements contrast sharply with those of the US and UK, which have remained in line with long-standing policy. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited the region this week and reiterated their country’s commitment to a two-state solution.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki was among those scheduled to speak in Geneva on Thursday.
Israel and its allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, accused the body of disproportionate anti-Israel bias. The council, elected by the UN General Assembly, has a permanent feature on its annual agenda related to Israel and Palestine. No other problem has a dedicated element.
If Thursday’s resolution passes, it would also create the council’s very first open-ended commission of inquiry.
Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told reporters the recent violence was only the latest in a long cycle and said an investigation should have “permanent status.”