Last month, at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 issued another one-sided report criticizing Israel under agenda Item 7—the only permanent agenda item at the UNHRC which condemns only one country, Israel.
Just like Item 7, the mandate of the SR is inherently biased, as it is exclusively focused on investigating Israel’s violations without any considerations for Israel’s security or human rights violations committed by other parties.
The mandate of the SR completely ignores Hamas' terror campaign against Israel and the fact that Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. It doesn’t cover any of the 15,000 rockets and mortars that have been fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians since 2001. These rocket attacks constitute a double war crime, as Hamas hides behind its civilians to attack Israeli civilians—hoping for maximum casualties on both sides with the knowledge that Israel will be blamed by the international community for the Palestinian civilian casualties.
The SR also ignores the dozens of terror attack tunnels constructed by Hamas with the ultimate purpose of kidnapping, injuring, and killing as many Israelis as possible. Furthermore, the SR does not seem to mind that the construction materials used for every one of these terror tunnels could have built 86 homes, six schools or 19 medical clinics, as estimated by the IDF.
Nowhere does the SR mention the evidence that Hamas is diverting international aid to terror. Last year, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs discovered that 60 percent of the annual budget for Gaza of World Vision (a global humanitarian organization) was diverted to Hamas, approximately $7.2 million per year. The MFA further estimates that Hamas is stealing 95 percent of the cement transferred from Israel to Gaza to use it for military purposes.
In March, the coordinator of government activities in the territories found evidence that Hamas had stolen over $20 million of funds intended for Gaza’s needy from Turkish agency TIKA to amass wealth and fund terrorism. The fact that Hamas exploits its own population to inflict maximum harm on Israeli civilians seems to be of no concern to the SR.
Moreover, the SR avoids investigating Hamas' human rights crimes against its own population including severe restrictions on free speech, no elections since 2006, recurring instances of extrajudicial executions, widespread torture in jails, the persecution of the LGBT community and harsh restrictions for women.
While it is obvious to many that Hamas is a terrorist organization and a true impediment to peace, the Palestinian Authority also has an alarming record when it comes to upholding human rights and international law.
Above all, the PA has created an industry of incitement to violence that runs like a red thread throughout the authority and its sphere of influence. The PA indoctrinates Palestinian children to hate Jews and admire Palestinian terrorists by naming schools, streets, youth camps and sports tournaments after terrorists; by encouraging the murder of Jews on PA TV shows for children; and by implementing a school curriculum that describes Jews as the enemy, denies Israel's right to exist, and promotes violence against Israelis.
Furthermore, the PA pays salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists and the families of deceased terrorists. The PA’s policy of paying salaries to terrorists appears clearly in the PA budget since 2004. The more Israelis they kill, the higher the salary. Between 2004 and 2014, according to a comprehensible report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the PA spends about $300 million per year on these salaries.
Beyond the PA's propaganda war against Jews and Israelis, its human rights record when it comes to its own population is also troubling. Documented abuses consist of unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, severe restrictions on freedom of speech, and violence against women, including honor killings.
By ignoring all of the above, the SR’s and the UNHRC’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is counterproductive. By overlooking Palestinian human rights abuses, the UNHRC is in essence giving its consent and empowering the Palestinian leadership to continue abusing Palestinians and Israelis alike. The only way to reach a true and sustainable peace is to convince the Palestinian leadership that terrorism, extremism, and totalitarianism will be costly; while democracy, co-existence and caring for its own population will be rewarded.
The World Jewish Congress therefore urges the UNHRC to end the double standards and remove Item 7. By supporting the SR and by continuously singling out and condemning the only democracy in the Middle East, the UNHRC has abandoned an honest approach to human rights.
This op-ed is based on two statements delivered by Gabriel Rosenberg, member of the World Jewish Congress’ Jewish Diplomatic Corps, at the UN Human Rights Council on March 20, 2017 under Item 7. Follow him on Twitter: @GabRosenberg.