The United Nations is considering publishing an update to its blacklist of Israeli and foreign businesses operating in occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights. An initial list of 112 such companies was published in 2020.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet (Photo: UNHRC)
On Friday the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet said she would consider an update even though funding remained an issue. “I am currently considering possible options for an update on an exceptional basis and without prejudice as to future decisions,” Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council during its 49th session in Geneva that opened on February 28 and ends on April 1.
Bachelet also complained about Israel’s failure to renew the visas of her international staff over the last 18 months. “This gravely undermines the discharge of our mandated work. I urge Israel to renew my staff’s visas urgently,” she said. In a report she submitted to the council she chastised both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for failing to investigate violations of international humanitarian law that occurred during the 11-day Gaza war in May 2021.
In her statement to the council, Bachelet spoke of her concern about rising Israeli-Palestinian violence in the past year. This included, she said, the Gaza war in May and the “significant increase in the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and intensification of settler-related violence.” Israeli forces killed 315 Palestinians and injured 17,597 Palestinians – an almost five-fold increase in comparison to the previous reporting period when Israeli Forces killed 67 and injured a further 3,678. Fourteen Israelis were killed and 824 more were wounded by Palestinians in comparison to the previous period when one Israeli soldier was killed and 90 Israelis were injured,” Bachelet stated.
She was concerned, she said, about the “pervasive impunity afforded to members of the Israeli security forces for incidents of possible excessive use of force outside the context of hostilities, frequently resulting in potentially unlawful killings, including, in some cases, possible extrajudicial executions.” Bachelet spoke of her concern with the growing incidents of settler violence against Palestinians. She also alleged that Palestinian security forces had used excessive force against citizens and committed other actions of human rights violations, including the killing in Hebron of Nizar Banat, Palestinian dissident and candidate for election to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
On 27 May 2021, the Human Rights Council held a special session on “the Grave Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” and adopted the resolution “Ensuring respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel.”
Through its resolution, the Human Rights Council decided to “urgently establish an ongoing, independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up and since 13 April 2021.” The resolution further requested the commission of inquiry to “investigate all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.” The commission of inquiry was mandated to report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on an annual basis as from June 2022 and September 2022, respectively.