Israel Hasn’t Stopped Torturing People? Go Figure.

Look who has another study on Israel.  *sips lemon juice*

 

Just recently, Israel was elected to chair one of the United Nations’ permanent committees — the Sixth Committee, called the “Legal Committee.”  It oversees issues related to international law, including human rights issues and issues of decolonization.  Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon remarked, “I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position… Israel is a world leader in international law and in fighting terrorism…We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with the countries of the world.”  This presents a case of overwhelming contradiction, as Israel itself has been sharply and persistently criticized for violations of human rights and its continued colonial project in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In May 2011, Danon wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times where he advocated that Israel annex all West Bank settlements and “uninhabited areas.”  He concluded that under his plan Israel would bear no responsibility to Palestinians in the West Bank, who would live in their own “unannexed” towns.  Furthermore, under his plan Palestinians would not be eligible for citizenship.  According to him, this solution would avert the “threat to the Jewish and democratic status of Israel by a growing Palestinian population.”  Danon’s definition of democracy is specifically narrow, and now that the two-state solution is thoroughly dead, this mentality indicates what democracy Israel-style might look like in the one state.

A recent report by the United Nations Committee Against Torture puts into stark relief the absurd situation we are now in, with Israel chairing a committee that is responsible for, among other things, calling attention to Israel’s violations of human rights and its programmatic colonization of the OPT.  The UNCAT meets in Geneva three times a year and examines States’ implementation of and compliance with the Convention on the basis of reports received from the State party as well as from other, independent sources including reports from non-governmental organizations. Just last month it issued its “Concluding Observations [advance unedited version]” of May 13, 2016.

The report begins by commending Israel for two legislative and judicial measures, and for six initiatives to adopt policies and administrative measures “to give effect to the Convention [Against Torture].”  Listed among the positive aspects is Israel’s “adoption of Amendment No. 14 to the Youth (Trial, Punishment and Modes of Treatment) Law 5731-1971, in July 2009, which inter alia gives precedence to rehabilitation over punishment of children accused and/or convicted.”

It then enumerates 25 concerns, including allegations of torture and ill-treatment, excessive use of force, coerced evidence, settler violence, house demolitions, and the issue of asylum seekers and refugees.  It also “regrets the State party’s continued argument that the Convention does not apply in all the Occupied Territories and notes that this position is contrary to the views of this Committee as set forth in its previous concluding observations (CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, para. 11), other treaty bodies, and the International Court of Justice.”  It then “reaffirms that the Convention applies to all territory and persons under the jurisdiction of the State party, including the Occupied Territories.”

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