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Israel's boycott of the UN human rights scrutiny session

In another attempt to degrade the universal definition of justice, Israel failed to attend the UN Human Rights Council meeting last Tuesday, boycotting the session and suspending its participation indefinitely. Expecting criticism on various aspects of its illegal occupation and ensuing violations against Palestinians, Israel feigned 'concern' of a unified bias against itself.

In 2008 Israel was censured in a report which challenged its colonial, apartheid and other discriminative policies against the Palestinian people. Concerns were raised about its continuous land appropriation and denial of Palestinian self-determination. Equally, the report rebuked Israel for a number of other abuses that included; administrative detention, denial of citizenship and land rights with regard to the Bedouin communities, the illegal blockade on Gaza, as well as the deprivation of cultural and religious rights. All these were met with the usual Israeli rhetoric portraying itself as 'the only democracy in the Middle East' and its pretence of fighting terrorism through legal means.

An equally vital observation by Austria referred to the lack of a formal constitution in Israel, which allows the occupier to bestow citizenship, nationality and civil rights without the burden of regulations.

In particular, Palestine had pointed out Israel's omission of its role as an occupying power, deeming the occupation 'the most severe form of human rights violations' and calling for an immediate halt to the Judaisation of Palestinian territory. Settlement construction and torture procedures which directly infringe the Convention against Torture were other issues raised by Palestinians in an attempt to rectify a fragment of colonial oppression.
However, Israel's reply consisted of further 'willingness' rhetoric to indulge in dialogue with the population described as non-existent in early Zionist literature. Security, Israel affirms, was the reason why severe restrictions on movement were necessary. Manipulating international law to suit its purposes, Israel fails to acknowledge the abuses in the system of administrative detention and isolation of Palestinians through the construction of the apartheid wall.

While Arab countries, including Egypt, denounced Israel's absence as non-cooperative and non-compliant, Israel's allies, notably the US, stressed upon the importance of collaboration without issuing any reprimands for Israel's intransigent attitude. Prior to the meeting, US ambassador to the UN Eileen Donahoe stated 'We see a strong bias against Israel that has not gone away'.

Since Operation Pillar of Defence, the media has brought the plight of Palestinians to attention – an objective attained with the staunch support and activism by social movements aware of the links between impunity and oppression. Besides the massacre in Gaza, the plight of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, personified in particular by Samer Issawi, has influenced a negative perception of Israel. Far from sympathising with the occupier, Operation Pillar of Defence served to alert world opinion of an inequality stemming from apartheid practices and Israeli insistence on security resulting in the extra-judicial killings of Palestinians.

The equivocation lies with the UN – gently admonishing Israel for its boycott yet explicitly lauding 'Israel's right to defend itself from Palestinian aggression'. Once again, the UN's discrepancies and supposedly reputable commitment have been mired once again by its feeble attempt to admonish Israel's lack of participation, while overlooking its culture of impunity that accompanies the occupation.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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