Position:President of Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories has impacted both the civil; political rights; economic; social and cultural rights of Palestinians.
The impact of the occupation on Palestinian territories has been considerable: including restrictions on movement (as a result of the ‘Security/Separation Wall’, checkpoints, curfews and closure policies) and the resultant impact on the Rights to Education and Health; de-institutionalization of the Palestinian economy; expropriation of Palestinian land and resource and the destruction of land and property.
Definition of Key Terms
The basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status. Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education. Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.
Israeli- Palestinian conflict
It is an ongoing dispute between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. Essentially, it is a dispute by two different people with claims over the same area of land. The Israelis believe that they are entitled to the land now known as Israel; while the Palestinians believe that they are entitled to the land they call Palestine.
Are also knows as the “occupied Palestinian territories”(OPT or oPt) are descriptions often used to describe the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip which are occupied or otherwise under the control of Israel. Israeli governments have maintained that the area involved is within territorial dispute. The Green Line, while subject to future negotiations, has frequently defined the extent of the territories.
The June 4, 1967 border, also known as green line, is the internationally recognized border between the occupied Palestinian territory (i.e. West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) and the State of Israel. The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) represents an area equivalent to 22 percent of historic Palestine. The boundaries of the opt were established through the signing of armistice agreements between Egypt; Jordan and Israel following the war of 1948, and the subsequent creation of the State of Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine.
A strip of land along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt A majority of its 1.4 million residents are Palestinian refugees.
Formerly the “Palestinian National Liberation Movement” is a leading secular Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Palestinian Islamist political party that has governed the Gaza strip since 2007. Rival party of Fatah, although the two parties signed a reconciliation agreement in 2011. Considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the Oslo I Accord, signed in Washington, D.C., in 1993and the Oslo II Accord signed in Taba in 1995. The Oslo Accords marked the start of the Oslo process, a peace process that is aimed at achieving a peace-treaty based on the United Nations Security Council resolution 242 and 338 - to fulfill the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination". The Oslo process started after secret negotiations in Oslo, resulting in the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in negotiations.
The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority, whose functions are the limited self-governance over parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and, it acknowledged that the PLO is now Israel's partner in permanent status negotiations about the remaining issues. The most important issues are the borders of Israel and Palestine, the Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, the question of Israel's military presence in and control over the remaining territories after the recognition of the Palestinian autonomy by Israel, and the Palestinian right of return. The Oslo Accords, however, it is important to remember, did not create a Palestinian state.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing dispute between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. Essentially, it is a dispute by two different people with claims over the same area of land. The Israelis believe that they are entitled to the land now known as Israel , while the Palestinians believe that they are entitled to the land they call Palestine. For religious Jewish Israelis and religious Muslim Palestinians, the belief is deeper still, for both sides believe that God (called Jehovah by the Jews and Allah by the Muslims), gave them the land, and that to give it away or to give it up to another people is an insult to God and a sin. Historically, the ancient Jews from Biblical times called their land Israel, Canaan, and other historical names. Modern Jews, and quite a few Christians, believe that in the days of the Bible and the Torah, God gave this land to the ancient Jews (also known as Hebrews), led by men such as Abraham, Moses, David, and others. As the dispute preceded many problems evolved, one of which was an issue of human rights.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians mounted rapidly amid the collapse of US-sponsored negotiations in April, a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, and Israel’s continuing illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.
The ceasefire brought an end to open conflict but tension remained acute, particularly in the West Bank. There, the Israeli forces carried out unlawful killings of Palestinian protesters, including children, and maintained oppressive restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement while continuing to promote illegal settlements and allow Israeli settlers to attack Palestinians and destroy their property with near total impunity. Israeli forces detained thousands of Palestinians, some of whom reported being tortured, and held around 500 administrative detainees without trial. Within Israel, the authorities continued to demolish homes of Palestinian Bedouin, which are also knows as the “unrecognized villages” in the Negev/Naqab region and commit forcible evictions. They also detained and summarily expelled thousands of foreign migrants, including asylum-seekers, and imprisoned Israeli conscientious objectors.
Throughout the recent years, anger and frustration has mounted as the larger, but poorer Palestinian population also find themselves with the less pristine land. This has been further fuelled by Israeli demolishment of many homes and attempts to kill extremist leaders which often end in death or capture of innocent civilians (including women and children).
Major Countries or Organizations Involved
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
An organization, which was founded in 1964 with the purpose of the "liberation of Palestine". It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian People" by over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations. The organization has been engaged in the United Nations via the observer status since 1974 The PLO was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization until the Madrid Conference in 1991. In 1993, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace, and rejected “violence and terrorism” In response to that Israel officially recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
UNRWA services are available to all those living in its area of operations; who are registered with the Agency and are in need of their assistance. The descendants of Palestine refugees, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services. More than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. A Palestine refugee camp is defined as a plot of land placed at the disposal of UNRWA by the host government to accommodate Palestine refugees and set up facilities to cater to their needs. However, UNRWA also maintains schools, health centers in areas outside the recognized camps where Palestine refugees are concentrated, such as Yarmouk.
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Human Rights Watch, on several occasions, has documented the unlawful use of force by Israeli security forces in policing demonstrations in the West Bank over many years, and in particular firing live ammunition that hit protesters, journalists, and human rights activists who posed no imminent threat to the forces. The shooting of the Human Rights Watch research assistant is but the latest example. There have been attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, and demonstrations that started in the West Bank but spread to Gaza, where Palestinians protested near the border with Israel. Going into the weekend, more than 1,300 Palestinians have been injured in clashes since October 1, 2015 including at least 800 people treated at public hospitals.
Human Rights Watch has asked the Israeli authorities to investigate the October 6,2015 shooting into the crowd of demonstrators. A long record of impunity marks any attempt to investigate alleged violations by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Israel has developed from an agrarian state run along collectivist lines into a hi-tech economy in the past 60 years. It has absorbed Jewish immigrants from Europe, the rest of the Middle East, North America and, most recently, the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia along the way. Its political life has nonetheless been dominated by the conflict with its Arab neighbors, including full-scale regional wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and many smaller-scale conflicts including the 1956 invasion of Egypt and the Lebanon wars of 1982 and 2006.
Relations with the Palestinians have been the key factor in foreign and security policy. The Palestinians in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967. The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to nearly 500,000 people and are deemed to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Gaza conflict Israel evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and withdrew its forces, ending almost four decades of military occupation. However, after the militant Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Israel intensified its economic blockade of the Strip. In 2008 and in 2014 it launched major military assaults on Gaza to halt cross-border rocket attacks. In 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement, but it wasn't until the early 1990s, after years of an uprising known as the intifada, that a peace process began with the Palestinians.
Despite the handover of Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestinian control, a final agreement has yet to be reached. The main stumbling blocks include the status of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees and their descendants and Jewish settlements.
Palestine The Palestinian national movement gradually regrouped in the West Bank and Gaza, run respectively by Jordan and Egypt, and in refugee camps in neighboring Arab states.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) emerged as its leading umbrella group shortly before the Six-Day War of 1967, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Throughout many years Palestinians have been striving for self-determination but have achieved only limited control over their affairs. Relations with the Israeli authorities have been marked by violent conflict. Palestinian economy is considered fragmented and subject to Israeli restrictions. Much of the population is dependent on food aid. Israel, many Arab countries and the West avoid Hamas, which controls Gaza. These circumstances eventually established a Palestinian National Authority (PNA - also referred to as the Palestinian Authority, or PA) as a temporary body to run parts of Gaza and the West Bank (but not East Jerusalem).
The PNA functions as an agency of the PLO, which represents Palestinians at international bodies. A directly elected president, who appoints a prime minister and government, which must have the support of the elected Legislative Council, leads it.
Its civilian and security order runs in urban areas under the Oslo Accords. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, with its continuing settlement building and military checkpoints, and Palestinian attacks, have slowed progress towards a final agreement and led many on both sides to dispute the worth of the Accords. Israel retains full control over bypass roads, settlements and the Jordan Valley. Israel explicitly rejects the charter calls for Israel's "nullification". The PNA made a symbolic bid for recognition at the UN as the "State of Palestine" in 2011, mainly in an effort to highlight the lack of movement in relations with Israel.
Timeline of Events
1940s - Nazi Holocaust of the Jews in Europe prompts efforts at mass migration to Palestine. Jewish armed groups in pursuit of independent Jewish state fight British authorities.
1948 - Israel declares independence as British mandate ends. Admitted to United Nations.
1948-1949 - First Arab-Israeli war. Armistice agreements leave Israel with more territory than envisaged under the Partition Plan, including western Jerusalem. Jordan annexes West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, Egypt occupies Gaza. Around 750,000 Palestinian Arabs either flee or are expelled out of their total population of about 1,200,000.
1949-1960s - Up to a million Jewish refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, plus 250,000 Holocaust survivors, settle in Israel.
2002 March-May - Israeli army launches Operation Defensive Shield on West Bank after spate of Palestinian suicide bombings. Largest military operation on West Bank since 1967.
2002 June - Israel begins building barrier in and around West Bank. Israel says barrier
aimed at stopping Palestinian attacks; Palestinians see it as a tool to grab land. Route is controversial as frequently deviates from pre-1967 ceasefire line into West Bank.
2004 July - International Court of Justice issues advisory opinion that West Bank barrier is illegal.
The outcome of crimes committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the year 2006 showed that:
246 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 48 children and 12 women, have been killed by the IOF.
At least 887 Palestinian civilians, including 256 children and 30 women, have been wounded by the IOF gunfire.
At least 241 air-to-surface missiles and hundreds of artillery shells have been fired at Palestinian civilians and military targets in the Gaza Strip.
Many families in Rafah, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya have been forced to leave their houses.
30 houses belonging to activists of Palestinian factions were destroyed by IOF warplanes.
2006 January - Hamas Islamist group wins Palestinian parliamentary elections. Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza escalate. Met with frequent Israeli raids and incursions over following years.
2007 November - Annapolis Conference for first time establishes "two-state solution" as basis for future talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority.
2008 - 2009 Hamas has failed to conduct any domestic investigation into the serious allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by their forces during the conflict and Israel's investigations have been inadequate - failing to meet international standards.
2014 January-The report, which has been ignored by mainstream media and human rights organizations in the West, reveals that 10 Palestinians died in January 2014 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of anarchy, lawlessness and misuse of weapons.
2014 January- As for assaults on freedom of expression and peaceful protests, the human rights organization pointed out that on January 12, 2014, Palestinian Authority (PA) policemen used force to break up a protest by Palestinian youths.
Relevant United Nations Treaties and Events November 19,1948: Resolution 212: Assistance to Palestinian refugees
December 19,1968: Resolution 2443: Establishes the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People.
December 11,1969: Resolution 2546: Condemns Israeli "violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" in the occupied territories
November 4,1970: Resolution 2628: Urges the speedy implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and recognizes that "respect for the rights of the Palestinians is an indisputable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East"
Previous Attempts to Solve the Issue
There have been numerous attempts in trying to resolve this issues, which bounced from the two state solution to the one democratic state concept. These however failed each and every time due to the lack of negotiations and initiative from both sides.
The two-State concept was proposed by the Prime Minister of Israel at the UN to encourage the Security Council to take concrete, credible steps, including a freeze on illegal settlement building and planning, which made a final agreement more difficult, if not impossible — in order to jumpstart meaningful negotiations.
The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in order to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Possible solutions Human right is an important factor in life which should never be violated, under any circumstances. Unfortunately that is exactly what has happened in Palestine. In order to fight this an organization was created – Palestine Center for Human Rights, non-governmental organization,which was established in 1995 by a group of Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists. The organization also receives funding from governmental, non-governmental, and religious sources, which focuses on:
Protection of human rights and promotion the rule of law in accordance with international standards.
Creating and developing democratic institutions and an active civil society, together with promoting democratic culture within Palestinian society.
Supporting all the efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise its rights in regard to self-determination and independence with regards to the international Law and UN resolutions,is also another important thing to be done. Along with that, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is also involved in granting people the right for adequate housing and shelter. It is indeed of a great help to the refugees, who are left with nothing.
The solution of having two independent states will not guarantee immunity to human-rights abuses, nor will the creation of one democratic state.
The authenticity and transparency of the fight for human rights is tested in times when it does not coincide with any political cause. Israelis who support torture to save the peace process fail this test of promoting human rights in the country same as Palestinians, who are ready to postpone equality for women for the sake of national unity in the face of Israeli oppression, fail the test as well. Justice and equality cannot be divided. Human rights should be implemented under a permanent agreement. They should not be a political issue. They should not even be a part of the negotiation table, but in this particular case bi-annual meetings can be organized, with the presence of both opposing sides in order to control the situation of human rights on both territories. Unless both sides choose to contribute, the issue will not be eradicated and human rights will continue to be violated. While there are various activists and organization fighting for justice and basic human rights, a stronger peace movement is needed together with an organization, which will monitor the situation of human rights and will have a direct communication with the Israeli and Palestinian government. Having a meeting point for both of the opposing sides, which will monitor the situation of human rights, is by far one of the best solutions at this period of time. Last, but not least is that politicians, on both sides, should refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and they must build upon existing agreements, including relevant Security Council resolution.