An independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council after the 2021 Gaza war said Israel must do more than end the occupation of land Palestinians want for a state, according to a report released on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the report "a waste of money and effort", which amounted to a witch hunt. Israel boycotted the Inquiry, accusing it of bias and barred entry to its investigators.
While prompted by the 11-day May 2021 conflict in which 250 Gaza Palestinians and 13 people in Israel died, the inquiry mandate includes alleged human rights abuses before and after that, and seeks to investigate the "root causes" of the tensions.
It cites evidence saying Israel has "no intention of ending the occupation" and is pursuing "complete control" over what it calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in a 1967 war.
"Ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient," the report says, urging additional action to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights.
Citing an Israeli law denying naturalisation to Palestinians married to Israelis, the report accuses the country of affording "different civil status, rights and legal protection" for Arab minorities. Israel says such measures safeguard national security and the country's Jewish character.
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The Israel Ministry added: "It is a biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased reports."
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but, with the help of Egypt, has imposed a 15-year siege on the enclave. Palestinian authorities have limited self-rule in the West Bank, which is dotted with illegal Israeli settlements.
Israel's war on Gaza in May 2021 began as a result of the occupation's efforts to evict Palestinian families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem and attacks carried out on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Resistance forces in Gaza responded to the threats and Israel bombed the enclave as a result.
The Gaza fighting was accompanied by rare street violence within Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens.
The report will be discussed at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council next week. The body cannot make legally binding decisions.
The United States quit the Council in 2018 over what it described as its "chronic bias" against Israel and only fully rejoined this year.
Unusually, the three-member commission of inquiry has an open-ended mandate. A diplomat said that its mandate was already a sensitive issue. "People don't like the idea of perpetuity," he said. Its members are from India, South Africa and Australia.
The report adds to international condemnation of Israel which was labelled an apartheid state by the pre-eminent human rights organisation Amnesty International earlier this year. This came following similar reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last year and Israeli human rights group B'Tselem which said Israel "promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River." Echoing the UN's 2017 report which concluded that Israel was practising apartheid, B'Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.
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