A new report by a United Nations expert, and submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, blames Israel in part for Palestinian men beating their wives — offering more fuel to those in the Trump administration seeking to leave the council over its anti-Israel bias.
The document, first reported by U.N. Watch, which monitors the international body, was written by Dubravka Šimonović — the Special Rapporteur on violence against women — who filed dual reports based on her trips to the region in 2016. The report in question focuses on the “causes and consequences” of violence against women in the region.
In her filing on Israel, Šimonović highlights what she claims is a “clear linkage” between the “Israeli occupation” and Palestinian domestic abuse:
While recognizing the imperatives related to security and stability in the region, the Rapporteur highlights the clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and [violence against women], and she notes, like her predecessor, that the occupation does not exonerate the State of Palestine from its due human rights obligation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies for acts of gender-based violence (GBV) in the areas and for persons under its jurisdiction or effective control.
The report states:
Several testimonies the Rapporteur collected highlighted that the economic situation, the level of unemployment and the pressure of the occupation have a greater impact on women’s and children’s lives, making them more vulnerable to domestic violence, in particular in Gaza, due to the constant pressure felt by the blockade and the recurring cycles of conflict, and the overcrowding that limits their mobility and privacy.
While Šimonović does partly blame traditions and culture within Palestinian society, her report still fingered Israel in those sections. For instance, the report claims that “decades of Israeli occupation in parallel with the continuation of patriarchal attitude in Palestinian society expose women to subordination and continuing violence.”
However, while in some places the report does state that what it calls “the State of Palestine” has a responsibility, it also mitigates that responsibility in other sections, at one point claiming: “the occupation is a real obstacle to the State’s due diligence obligation to prevent violence against women in areas where it does not have full jurisdiction…”
“Israeli occupation” refers to Israel’s presence in the West Bank, which is dotted with historic Jewish towns and Jewish holy sites; and eastern Jersualem, home of the Western Wall and Temple Mount.
The Human Rights Council has long been accused of anti-Israel bias. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has repeatedly called the council out on its bias, and threatened that the U.S. may leave that body if it does not reform its membership and focus less on Israel.
At a debate on the report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.N. Watch representative Hillel Neuer criticized Šimonović and accused her of “infantilizing” Palestinian men, and questioned why she did not spend more time on the issue of “tradition and culture,” arguing that Palestinian TV gives advice to husbands on how to hit their wives.
Šimonović responded by clarifying that “any man who is beating his wife is responsible – he is a perpetrator of violence.”
“But when we are speaking about human rights responsibility and due diligence responsibility, then we are at a different level, because states have due diligence responsibility to prevent violence against women and to establish measures to prevent such violence; to punish perpetrators of violence and to provide compensation to victims,” she said.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY