It is important to build on UN resolutions and to support the perceptions and working mechanisms of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the possibility of conducting a formal criminal investigation into the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation authorities in Palestine. This is a vital step towards ensuring Israel's accountability for the decades of its occupation. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 has said that accountability is still absent, and has been since the beginning of the occupation.
Given its capacity and international scope, the UN should give priority to establishing a database of settlers and their crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, in order to bring all involved to justice and prosecute them as terrorists. Their terrorism is carried out under the protection of the occupation security forces and sponsored by the racist, settler-colonial government. Justice demands that this cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. These terrorist settlers attack Palestinian farmers and their land, and try to stop them from gathering in the olive harvest, but they will neither deter nor intimidate the indigenous people of this blessed land. Now popular solidarity efforts by various Palestinian groups, including university students and national institutions, to support and protect farmers and assist them in picking the crops must be united in their steadfastness and attachment to the land.
Over the years, the UN has passed scores of resolutions condemning various aspects of the deep-rooted Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, but sanctions of any kind have never been imposed to enforce the will of the international community. Israel's numerous violations have never carried any consequences for the apartheid state. However, the possibility of accountability looms on the horizon, giving the Palestinians some hope that Israel's impunity will end and its extremist government and illegal settlers will no longer be allowed to commit their terrorist acts across the occupied Palestinian territories.
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To date, though, there doesn't appear to be any movement in a practical sense to hold Israel to account. We haven't heard much about the ICC's preliminary investigation into the 2014 Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the spread of Israeli settlements and, more recently, the killing and wounding of Palestinian demonstrators near the nominal border fence in Gaza, occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. Where are the investigators looking into the violations of human rights, and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity?
It is time for comprehensive investigations and the creation of a UN information centre covering the crimes committed daily in Palestine by the Israeli security forces and settlers. Such a centre would provide support for investigators as well as the victims of Israel's human rights abuses. International law must be upheld; that is the whole purpose of the UN itself, so it is important for the international community to respect and defend the laws and conventions by which all states are supposed to conduct their affairs. The international community did, after all, draft these laws, ratify the conventions and create the institutions to implement them, so they must be supported.
The settler-colonial state of Israel has never declared where its borders are. It is expanding the territory under its control on a daily basis, eradicating slowly but surely the land supposedly allocated for an independent Palestinian state. This is why full recognition must be given to the State of Palestine and its institutions without delay.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 20 October 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.