B'Tselem chairman Hagi El-Ad, used his time at the UN to attack the Israeli government’s policies, blame the government for violence against the Palestinians, “take action (against Israel), now.”
The Israeli leftist organization “Peace Now” was also invited to the session, but was unable to come, instead sending a representative from its US office. The representative said that “the values enshrined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence are in question.”
The unofficial hearing was the opening shot fired by the Palestinians to get a Security Council resolution passed against Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The session was officially convened by the countries of Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, and Angola after a Palestinian request. The name of the session was “Settlements as a barrier to peace and to the two state solution.”
The B'Tselem CEO opened the session by thanking the UN Security Council for the opportunity to voice his organization’s positions at the UN.
“What I am about to tell you is not intended to shock you,” he began. “The occupation of Palestine is unjust – we are about to finish 50 years of occupation, and I am urging you all to take action. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you, what does it mean to live practically 49 years under military rule? Living under military occupation means living under violence, violence directed at Palestinian lives from the cradle to the grave.”
“One wrong move and your rights are taken away,” El-Ad continued, speaking about the reality of living in the West Bank as a Palestinian. “Who can take checkpoints for half a century? Israel constantly enacts laws which are contrary to the Human Rights Council. Israel announced that 20 percent of West Bank land is state territory, and insists that all of these actions are legal under international law.”
“Despite the international agreements that these settlements are illegal,” El-Ad said, “the only thing which is growing are the settlements. Btzelem has been working for 27 years to document the live of the Palestinians. We are fighting against infringements on human rights. B'Tselem mission is to explain to Israelis how the Palestinians live.”
“I feel it necessary to ask – how many Palestinian houses need to be demolished before action is taken? The Palestinians have the right to life and self determination. This is the time to take action. The Security Council doesn’t only have the power, but also has the obligation to take action and send a message to the world – Israel cannot occupy a population and call itself a democracy. Israel was established based on international legitimacy. I am a citizen of that nation, it is my home, and I’ve lived my entire life with this reality, and millions of Israelis and Palestinians don’t know a different reality. We need your help – 50 years of occupation is too much. The occupation must end. The UN Security Council must act, and that time is now.”
In response, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Dannon said that the Palestinians are looking for any way they can to get out of negotiations, and are committing “diplomatic terrorism” against Israel.
“During these days when our souls are being weighed and we are praying for the unity of the Nation of Israel, it is sad and disappointing that Israeli organizations are providing moral cover for persecution against Israel at the UN. “