BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian officials on Saturday welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) adoption of four resolutions concerning the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, and called upon the international community to take immediate action to hold Israel accountable for its violations.
Spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority (PA) Yousif al-Mahmoud said that the four resolutions adopted by the Council represented only further proof of international rejection of the Israeli occupation. Israel's policies, he said, aimed to entrench the occupation and posed a clear threat to regional security and stability.
Al-Mahmoud said that the UNHRC motions needed to be translated into immediate actions on the ground "to end the occupation that has been ruling by force for half a century."
He thanked the Palestinian delegation in Geneva and all countries that voted in favor of the adopted resolutions, and expressed “sorrow” over the few countries which voted against them, saying that their position encouraged the occupation and its policies conducted against Palestinians in violation of international laws.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi in a statement Saturday expressed “deep appreciation” to the UNHRC members for assuming a "principled, courageous, and just stand” in voting in favor of the resolutions.
She highlighted in particular a motion that called on states "not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements," which urged business enterprises “to avoid contributing to the establishment, maintenance, development, or consolidation of Israeli settlements.”
She described the resolutions as “a true investment in justice and signifies the international community’s commitment to seeking accountability for Israel’s unlawful unilateralism and violations of international law.
Thirty-six member states voted in favor of the resolution that criticized Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
Nine states abstained, and only two states -- the United States and Togo -- opposed the resolution.
The Council also adopted three other motions. A resolution that aims to ensure accountability for human rights violations committed by Israel in the occupied West Bank, besieged Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem was passed with the approval of 30 member states with only two against and 15 abstaining.
The second resolution, concerning the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, was passed almost unanimously, with 43 states voting in favor, two abstaining, and two voting against the resolution.
A third resolution that dealt with the status of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem passed with 41 states voting in favor, four abstaining, and two voting against it. Another resolution condemned Israel for its violations of the human rights of Druze residents of the Golan Heights.
Ashrawi denounced the US for voting against the resolutions and for the US's complicity in the military occupation of the Palestinian territory.
“Rather than acting in accordance with international law, democracy, and human rights, the US made the decision to isolate itself at the expense of Palestinian rights, lives, and lands,” she said.
“It is up to governments worldwide to put an end to Israel’s continued annexation of Palestinian land and its destruction of the two-state solution; we call on the international community to intervene immediately and to exhibit the political will necessary to make Israel cease and desist its flagrant violations once and for all,” her statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the UK Mission to the United Nations charged the UNHRC with “bias against Israel” in a scathing statement that said that UK was “putting the Human Rights Council on notice.”
"If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories,” the statement said.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, reacted to the resolutions by accusing the Council of one-sidedness, "absurdity," and "cynicism," saying Israel rejected the resolution, Haaretz quoted him as saying.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki denounced the statements made by the Israeli ambassador, stressing that Israel’s illegal practices on the ground violated international law.
He invited all countries that voted against the resolutions to review their positions and to stand behind the principles of international law, stressed the urgent need to prosecute Israel for its violations, and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people.
Israel and its allies have routinely accused the United Nations and its agencies of anti-Israel bias.
After the US allowed a resolution to pass at the UN Security Council that reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, during the final days of the Obama administration, the US House of Representatives under the newly instated Donald Trump presidency approved a bipartisan resolution rejecting the UN resolution.
The decision confirmed US commitment as a diplomatic ally to the Israeli government and demanded that the US government dismiss any future UN resolutions they deemed “anti-Israel.”
Meanwhile, critics have pointed out that multiple UN resolutions condemning Israeli policies in the Palestinian territory have been previously passed, but the lack of political will to enforce such measures has remained clear, with Israeli authorities in 2016 approving thousands of new settler units on occupied Palestinian land and allocating millions of dollars to the expansion of settlements. Furthermore, a report published recently by a UN agency that accused Israel of imposing apartheid policies against Palestinians -- the first time a UN organization explicitly used the term "apartheid," which human rights groups have long used to describe Israeli policies -- was withdrawn at the bidding of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, reportedly following pressure from Israel and other UN member states.