‘Boycott them!’ UN rapporteur slams companies aiding Israeli settlements
The illegal Ulpana outpost, adjacent to the Beit El Jewish settlement. (AFP Photo / Gali Tibbon)
A special rapporteur for the UN’s Human Rights Council has called for a boycott on all companies involved with Israeli settlements until they adhere to international rights standards. Israel and the US have condemned the move.
In a report presented to the UN General Assembly, American professor Richard Falk said that many US, European and Mexican companies appeared to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws. The companies are allegedly exploiting Palestinian resources, helping Israel construct illegal settlements and providing security for settlers.
Falk said the call for a boycott is an effort to take infractions of international law seriously. He said the pace of Israeli settlement building has accelerated and that Israel has ignored UN resolutions condemning the practice, so “there is a sense that what the UN says doesn’t count.”
Although Falk admitted that further investigations were necessary to determine severity of the violations, the US and Israel were quick to condemn the report, accusing the UN special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.
US Ambassador Susan Rice stated, “Mr. Falk’s recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace. His continued service in the role of a UN Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the UN.”
Spokesperson for the Israeli Mission Karaen Peretz added that, “Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow. While he spends pages and pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas.”
The Anti-Defamation League urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to rescind his preliminary endorsement of the report. Ki-moon has previously said that settlement activity is illegal, and “runs contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map and repeated Quartet calls for the parties to refrain from provocations.”
Representatives from several countries in the UN General Assembly – including Egypt and Iran – praised Falk’s report as fair.
Richard Falk, an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, previously angered Israel by comparing the country to Nazi Germany, and accusing it of crimes against humanity for its treatment of Palestinians.
Since 2008, Israel has barred Falk from visiting the Palestinian territories.
In July 2012, the UN Human Rights Council initiated a probe into Jewish settlements. Israel responded by saying it would bar the Council’s experts from accessing the sites.
The vast majority of the international community considers the settlements in the occupied territories to be illegal. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The International Court of Justice also said the settlements were illegal. No foreign government actively supports Israel’s building of settlements.
Israel disputes the position of the international community and the legal arguments deeming the settlements illegal. The country cites its historical and biblical links to the West Bank, saying the status of the settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.
And from South Africa via The Electronic Intifada
Israel “far worse than apartheid South Africa” says ANC chair as Pretoria conference backs boycott
Activists in South Africa have welcomed a decision by the African National Congress(ANC) International Solidarity Conference to support the Palestinian-led campaign ofboycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, led the decades-long struggle against apartheid.
The official declaration of the conference, held in Pretoria/Tshwane from 25-28 October, “Reiterated its support for Palestinian aspirations for an independent state including the full membership of the UN; and called on the UN Security Council to show leadership in halting the expansion of Israeli settlements and the harassment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”
It also stated that the conference “supports the call of civil society’s BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign.”
ANC Chair: Israel “far worse than Apartheid South Africa”
BDS South Africa said in a press release distributed via email:
There was widespread support from international delegates for the adoption and support of the Palestinian BDS call. However, there was one objection from a delegate from Germany who argued that Israel cannot be compared to Apartheid South Africa and thus an all-out boycott of Israel is “ill-informed.” The ANC Chairperson, Baleka Mbete, strongly responded saying that she has been to Palestine herself and that the Israeli regime is not only comparable but “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.” Ms Mbete received a resounding round of applause from delegates for articulating this position.
Mbete, the National Chairperson of the ANC, was Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa from 2008-2009 and is a former Speaker of the National Assembly.
Muhammed Desai of BDS South Africa, who heard Mbete make her statement, told The Electronic Intifada that the adoption of the BDS call was an “absolutely beautiful moment.”
A spokesman for South Africa’s Jewish Board of Deputies, the most outspoken Zionist organization in the country, condemned the conference decision and claimed that “Israel is starting to see the South African government as being as hostile as the Iranian regime,”according to local newspaper The Citizen.
The conference declaration was issued after Adri Nieuwhof presented an appeal, on behalf of over 150 former international anti-Apartheid activists, calling on the ANC to support the BDS movement.
The statement read by Nieuwhof, BDS South Africa noted, “had the support of signatories from more than 19 countries, belonging to over 35 organizations. It also had the backing of long-time South African supporters such as E.S. Reddy, Alice Walker, Victoria Brittain and Prexy Nesbitt.”
And from Israel as well … From the Archives
ISRAELI SUPPORT FOR BOYCOTT IS GROWING