The United Nations Commission of Inquiry announced yesterday that the ongoing investigation against Israel will start probing apartheid charges, reported the Times of Israel.
During a briefing at the United Nations in New York yesterday, the three members of the commission said future reports will investigate apartheid by Israel.
The commission said the investigation had so far focused on the “root causes” of the conflict, which they confirmed arise from Israel’s illegal presence in the occupied West Bank.
Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief who chairs the commission, called apartheid “a manifestation of the occupation.”
She said: “We’re focusing on the root cause which is the occupation and part of it lies in apartheid. We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate, it gives us the scope.”
The commission was set up after the 11-day Israeli attack in May 2021, during which civilians were killed and injured, tens of thousands displaced, homes and vital infrastructure destroyed and the supply of basic services severely disrupted.
Commission member Miloon Kothari also said the open-ended nature of the probe allowed it to examine the apartheid charge. “We will get to it because we have many years and issues to look at,” he said.
“We think a comprehensive approach is necessary so we have to look at issues of settler colonialism,” Kothari added. “Apartheid itself is a very useful paradigm, so we have a slightly different approach but we will definitely get to it.”
Earlier this month, 143 UN member states, including Israel, voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution reaffirming that any attempt at unilateral annexation of a state’s territory by another state is a violation of international law.
The Commission of Inquiry dedicated a significant part of its report to reviewing the impact of Israel’s occupation and de facto annexation policies on Palestinian human rights, noting the coercive environment intended to force Palestinians to leave their homes and alter the demographic composition of certain areas.
On 27 May 2021, the Human Rights Council agreed to establish an ongoing, independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel leading up to and since 13 April 2021.
The commission has published several reports since its formation.