Israel’s settler-colonial occupation and apartheid needs to be dismantled: UN special rapporteur 

The report by UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese states that the world has failed to hold Israel accountable for its continued violations of international human rights laws and its apartheid policies in the occupied Palestinian territories 

October 19, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
UN report on Palestine
(Photo: Middle East Monitor / Issam Rimawi)

United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian territories Francesca Albanese, in a report made public on Tuesday, October 18, stated that it is essential to “dismantle Israel’s settler-colonial occupation and its apartheid practices” to realize the inalienable right to self determination of the Palestinian people. 

Albanese stated that Israeli actions against Palestinians in the occupied territories amount to “persecution” and “collective punishment” with a clear attempt to erase Palestinian identity. She claimed that the Israeli apartheid regime was emboldened in the last 55 years due to “acquiescence of the international community and failure to hold Israel accountable” for its actions.  

The report notes that the greatest human rights suffering is that of nearly 40% of Palestinians who are refugees or their descendants, who were forced to flee their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948. Decades after 1967, they are still forced to suffer the occupation on a daily basis “without any prospects of returning to their ancestral homes.”  

The report dated September 21, 2022 was released for the public on Tuesday. Albanese notes that the Israeli state denied her a visit to the occupied territories and the Israeli representative to the UN also refused to meet her during the preparation of the report. She underlined that Israel’s non-cooperation with the UN on the matters of human rights is “a serious concern.”  

The report states that “since 1967, the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has been steadily deteriorating, primarily as a result of gross violations of international law, including racial segregation and subjugation by the occupying power, Israel.” It notes that several Israeli actions amount to gross violations of international human rights laws. 

Albanese is a well known expert of international law from Italy. She took charge as the UN special rapporteur in May this year succeeding Michael Lynk who had also termed the Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories as apartheid. 

Attempts to erase Palestinian identity 

Albanese’s report highlights Israeli attempts to stamp out Palestinian collective identity by persecution of all attempts to resist its oppressive policies. She points to the attack on the funeral procession of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 13 this year as one of the examples of such attempts. She also lists the growing number of cases of administrative detention under which a large number of Palestinian activists have been incarcerated in Israeli prisons without charge or trial for years.  

The closing down of offices of seven Palestinian human rights groups earlier this year, administrative detention of activist Salah Hammouri, and arrests of a large number of Palestinian children are some example cited in the report showcasing Israel’s attempts to terrorize Palestinians. 

The report mentions that between 500 to 700 minors are arrested by Israel almost every year. Currently, over 4,500 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli prisons. 

The UN special rapporteur also criticized the decision by some countries in the Arab region to normalize relations with Israel, noting that all attempts to negotiate peace with Israel will be “ineffective” until there is focus on Palestinian human rights and their right to self determination. 

The report recommends that “the government of Israel complies with its obligations under international law and ceases to impede the realization of the right to self determination of the Palestinian people, ending its settler colonial occupation of the Palestinian territory immediately and unconditionally and making reparations for its wrongful acts.” 

The report asks the world community to pressure Israel to immediately end the illegal occupation of all Palestinian lands as well as the displacement of Palestinians, independent of any negotiations, in order to achieve a final settlement of the conflict.