The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) convened last Tuesday, July 26 to discuss “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” Numerous representatives present at the UNSC stressed the gravity of violence and humanitarian challenges in Palestine, and the impact of Israeli human rights violations on the political process.
Lynn Hastings, the deputy special coordinator for the Middle East peace process and the humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian terrorities (oPt), cited a “growing sense of hopelessness among many Palestinians who see their prospects for statehood, sovereignty and a peaceful future slipping away,” due to illegal settlement building, home demolitions, and extrajudicial violence by the Israeli state. She also referenced the Israeli High Court’s recent order to allow the forced expulsion of Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta region for the creation of an Israeli firing zone, expressing concern for “the potential implications of the High Court’s ruling and the humanitarian toll on the communities in question if eviction orders are carried out.”
According to the UN’s media summary of the meeting, the Palestine state’s observer urged the UNSC and international community to take action, saying that “we know what the future will look like if nothing is done differently.” He outlined Israel’s denial of equal freedom, security, and prosperity, and the “persistent lack of accountability” for Israel’s crimes, referring to Israel’s 2021 assault on Gaza which killed 232 Palestinians, in addition to assassination of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May.
While the US Ambassador to the UN praised the recent I2U2 summit as a display for “the potential of closer cooperation between Israel and other countries in and outside the region,” other representatives – including those outside of the council – brought attention to the impunity for Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The representative from Malaysia, for example, mentioned Israel’s apartheid policies, including torture, evictions, and targeted killings, while the Cuban delegate discussed the US’ role in blocking the UNSC’s efforts to hold Israel accountable under international law.
On Thursday, the Palestinian National Authority’s Wafa reported insights from an interview with Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour, who stated that Palestine is renewing its bid for full UN membership, along with new diplomatic steps taken alongside state leaders from the US, France, and Jordan. This comes after a July 23 meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, where member states voted with overwhelming support on two resolutions on humanitarian conditions in the oPt and the state of Palestinian women.
Last Tuesday, on the same day as the the UNSC meeting, the government of South Africa called on the UN to categorize Israel as an apartheid state at the Palestinian Heads of Mission meeting in Pretoria. The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation referred to the country’s own memory of apartheid, stating that “we experienced firsthand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”
While the Palestinian civil society has called Israeli state oppression “apartheid” for decades, the term has recently gained global traction after reports from international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.