Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Falk: ICJ should issue opinion on Israeli ‘ethnic clensing’
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
The International Court of Justice at The Hague should issue an advisory opinion on Israeli acts of “colonialism,” “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” in the West Bank, said United Nations special investigator Richard Falk.
He made the call in a report which he intends to deliver to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March, and which he posted Monday on his blog.
In a report, Falk stressed that strong language such as the above terms, was needed to understand Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights, and as a result he intended to make use of them in the report.
“Such labels can be perceived as emotive, and admittedly require a finding by a court of law to be legally conclusive. However, such language, in the Special Rapporteur’s view, more accurately describes the realities of the occupation as of the end of 2010 than the more neutral-seeming description of factual developments that disguises the structures of this occupation which has undermined the rights under international law of the Palestinian people for 43 years,” Falk said.
He, therefore said, he renewed the call made by his predecessor John Dugard for the United Nations General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion on the matter from the ICJ.
“As will be illustrated in the present report, the dual discriminatory structure of settler administration, security, mobility, and law as compared to the Palestinian subjugation seems to qualify the long Israeli occupation of the West Bank as an instance of apartheid,” Falk said.
In the report he supported the Palestinian position that no negotiations should be held until Israel halted all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israel has argued that settlement construction has continued throughout all past negotiations and there is no reason to set a new pre-condition at this stage.
But Falk in his report said that resuming negotiations without a settlement freeze would set a precedent by which a pattern of repeated violation of rights would be treated as a new platform of legality.
While he questioned whether a negotiated settlement was possible, he also cast doubt on the viability of the Palestinian drive to seek unilateral statehood.
Palestinian plan to seek unilateral recognition of their state was consistent with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s work toward preparing his people for statement by this summer, he said.
Falk cautioned, however, that a “Palestinian state could be viewed as falling far short of realizing the minimum content of an acceptable enactment of self-determination, lacking in resolution of outstanding core issues such as refugees, Jerusalem, borders, water and settlements.”
In the report, he spoke against Israel naval blockade of Gaza and against its raid of the Gaza bound flotilla in May, in which nine activists were killed, calling its actions in both instances unlawful and unjustified.
He condemned Israel for the deaths of 1,335 Palestinian children had been killed since 2000 as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the West Bank. He did not distinguish in his report between those who participated and did not participate in violence against Israel. He was also upset by the continued arrest and detention of Palestinian children, who in some cases, were subject to physical and psychological abuse.
“At the end of October 2010, 256 children remained in Israeli detention, including 34 between the ages of 12–15 years. As of August 2010, 42.5 per cent of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons were not held in facilities separate from adults,” Falk said.
“Each year, approximately 700 Palestinian children (under 18) from the West Bank are prosecuted in Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army,” he said.
At the end of his report, Falk called for the addition of protocols to the 1949 Geneva Convention that would address the consequence of prolonged occupation such as had occurred in the West Bank for the last 43 years.
Since 2008, Falk has acted as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.
A professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University, Falk is an outspoken critic of Israeli actions in the West Bank in Gaza. In the past he has compared some Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with the actions of Nazis toward the Jews.
Last month United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon publicly slammed statements by Falk, who in a recent blog posting questioned whether the 9/11 terror attacks were orchestrated by the US government.