The United Nations is preparing to release yet another anti-Israel report, blaming Israeli settlements for a host of Palestinian grievances for everything from excessive use of force to building parks on the West Bank so as to “entrench” Israeli presence — the report coming just days after the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The report, a copy of which has been seen by Breitbart News, was drafted by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and submitted in the name of Secretary-General António Guterres to the General Assembly’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The report says:
Israel has employed discriminatory policies and practices, use of force that has been deemed excessive, and restrictions on the freedom of movement, including the closure on Gaza, settlement expansion, destruction of property and the exploitation of natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan
It accuses Israel of violating international law and also “exacerbating the social and economic conditions” of Palestinians in the area.
Arguing that the impact of Israeli policies is “multi-layered and has accumulated over the decades of occupation,” the Secretary-General’s report says:
Israeli practices and policies in the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan violate fundamental provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law. Certain Israeli practices may amount to forcible displacement of the protected population, a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The report is in response to an ECOSOC resolution in August which said the “Israeli occupation” has “gravely impeded the efforts to achieve sustainable development and a sound economic environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” and expressed “grave concern about the consequent deterioration of economic and living conditions.” It requested an annual report from the Secretariat on the subject.
As the Secretary-General’s report noted, these are the extensive demands given to Israel by ECOSOC resolutions:
[T]he full opening of the border crossings of the Gaza Strip and the full implementation of the Agreement of Movement and Access of 15 November 2005; the need to preserve the territorial contiguity, unity and integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including through compliance with the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (the “Paris Protocol”); full respect of the rules of international humanitarian law and to refrain from violence against the civilian population; cessation of the destruction of homes, properties, economic institutions, agricultural lands and orchards; the immediate end of the exploitation and the degradation of natural resources; the cessation of settlement and settlement-related activity; accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated by Israeli settlers; urgent attention to the plight and rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees; and compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and to facilitate visits of the Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan whose family members reside in their mother homeland, the Syrian Arab Republic.
However, the report is notable not just for the list of demands it imposes on Israel, but also the list of grievances, which almost entirely focuses on Palestinian concerns. It expresses “serious concerns” about possible “extrajudicial executions” and accuses them of delaying the return of bodies of Palestinian terrorists — something it claims “amounts to collective punishment” and violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also accuses Israeli settlers of vandalizing olive trees, harassing Palestinians, and creating tourist attractions and national parks as a way to “entrench” Israeli presence in the West Bank.
It dedicates few lines to Palestinian attacks against Israel. Although it notes that during the reporting period of April 2016 to March 2017, 12 Israelis were killed and 162 injured, it only reports the fact in the context of also saying that 63 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, and 2,276 were injured — noting that at least some of those were killed attempting to carry out terrorist attacks.
While the Secretary-General expresses a commitment to a “secure Israel,” he also concludes: “The Israeli occupation entails practices and policies that violate the principle of non-discrimination as well as international humanitarian and human rights law.”
But the report was always unlikely to be a positive one for the only thriving democracy in the Middle East and U.S.’ closest ally in the region. ESCWA, the organization that prepared the report, withdrew a report in March that called Israel an “apartheid state” after pressure by Guterres — and after furious objections from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
After the report was withdrawn, the then-head of ESCWA — Rima Khalaf — resigned over the push to withdraw the report. However, while Guterres pushed to have the report withdrawn, his spokesman later clarified that it was not the content of the report he objected to, but that the publication occurred without the consultation of the necessary departments — including the secretary-general himself.
A spokesman for the Secretary-General told Breitbart News that the new report “focuses on the issues at hand.”
“The report is based on facts gathered from multiple sources and both Israel and Palestine were given a chance to comment on it before its publication,” the spokesman said.
“On principle, the Secretary-General’s clearly denounces terrorism and stresses the need for Israelis and Palestinians to engage directly in discussions to finally achieve a just peace. Nothing in the report changes those views,” he said.
The new report also relies heavily on a number of resolutions from the controversial Human Rights Council — a body known for its anti-Israel bias, and which U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley recently called a “haven for dictators,” warning that if it doesn’t reform, the U.S. may leave. She noted in a speech to the Council this week that neither Venezuela nor Cuba has been the subject of a resolution, but Israel was the subject of five in March alone.
“If this report is similar to those of previous years, the U.S. cannot support it,” a spokesman for Haley told Breitbart News. “These reports from ESCWA have been one-sided and biased, and they do nothing to achieving the aspirations of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and such reports do nothing to secure a peaceful and secure future for both peoples.”
Secretary-General Guterres stirred controversy earlier this week on the day of the anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, his remarks upsetting American and Israeli officials when he hit Israel for its “occupation.”
“This occupation has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people,” he said. “Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, accused the secretary-general of disseminating “Palestinian misinformation.”
“Any attempt at a moral equivalency between killing innocent people and the building of homes is absurd,” he said.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY