The UN’s human rights chief on Tuesday called for an end to the Israeli occupation and warned that maintaining it would cause “prolongation of immense pain” for both Palestine and Israel.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council’s 35th session in Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the “weeping by loved ones for loved ones, the prayers, the curses, the hatreds and vengeance, the impossibility of a secure life for all — this can be ended”.
Hussein said the Palestinian people were now marking “a half-century of deep suffering under an occupation imposed by military force”.
The occupation had “denied the Palestinians many of their most fundamental freedoms, and has been often brutal in the way it has been realised; an occupation whose violations of international law have been systematic, and have been condemned time and again by virtually all States”.
The 1967 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day War, resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, triggering the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has proven one of the most intractable in modern history, causing massive human suffering and economic deprivation.
A two-state solution, which has been the normative approach for decades toward an ever-elusive peace agreement, was recognised in 1947 under UN Resolution 181.
A year later, the state of Israel was established, but nearly seven decades on, Palestinians are still struggling for independence.
Israel has pursued an increasingly aggressive settlement regime despite broad international condemnation, eating away at Palestinian territory and torpedoing the chances of success for a two-state reality.
Hussein also spoke about other ongoing conflicts. He said UN teams had discovered the bodies of Iraqi civilians in the streets of western Mosul, where government forces are trying to oust the Daesh terror group.
He also called on the Myanmar government to “cooperate fully” with a fact-finding mission which has been tasked with probing human rights abuses committed against the Rohingya Muslim community in the south-east Asian country.
“Rapid assistance,” is also needed in troubled Venezuela, Hussein said. Amid claims from the country’s attorney-general that 60 people have been killed in ongoing protests, the UN figure called on the government there to accept his request to allow an international mission to work in the country.
US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley, said: “The Council must address this issue. If Venezuela cannot, it should voluntarily step down from its seat on the Human Rights Council until it can get its own house in order.”