Israel must immediately end its occupation of the West Bank and its blockade on Gaza, the regional African Group told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
"The African Group calls for putting an immediate end to Israel's occupation, settlements, blockade on two million people in the Gaza Strip, the detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, and all other forms of collective punishment targeting the oppressed Palestinian people," the 54-member African Group said in a statement that was delivered by South Africa on their behalf.
It made its statement during the infamous Agenda Item 7, which mandates that the UNHRC debate Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians during each session. No other nation has such a standing Agenda Item.
Israel must immediately end its occupation of the West Bank and its blockade on Gaza, the African Group told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
All other human rights abuses around the globe are dealt with under Agenda Item 4.
To protest what they believe to a the biased nature of Agenda Item 7, Israel and most western nations, including in Europe, have largely agreed not to address the UNHRC on Agenda Item.
The call by the African Group comes in advance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's highly publicized visit to the African continent later this month to deepen ties between Israel and that continent.
But at the UNHRC the African Group spoke against Israel and in support of Palestinian statehood. International diplomatic efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have in the past assumed a two-step process, in which Palestinian statehood would be achieved only once there was a final status agreement in place between the parties to end hostilities.
Palestinians have pushed to separate their right to statehood from the resolution of the conflict.
The African Group told the UNHRC that the Palestinian people have a right "to self-determination and to a State on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital," the African Group
The Palestinian people have a right "to self-determination and to a State on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital," the African Group said.
"The international community must rise up to its responsibility and take urgent action to address this situation, as it strives to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world, it is incumbent upon us to pay our primary attention to the plight of the People in the occupied Palestinian territories, who suffer dire human rights situation as a result of the occupation," the African Group said.
Egypt's representative called on the UNHRC to force Israel to comply with past UN resolution on its activities in the West Bank and Gaza, including east Jerusalem.
"It is shameful that this country refuses to participate in this discussion of Agenda Item 7."
Turkey, which has just concluded a deal with Israel to restore full diplomatic ties, also slammed Israeli actions against the Palestinians when it addressed the UNHRC.
As part of that deal, Ankara dropped its demand that Israel lift its military naval and aerial blockade of Gaza, but at the UNHRC it still continued to call for Israel to "end the blockade."
If Europeans do not seize the moment, yesterday's referendum will be remembered as the baptism of a Holy Alliance of the dark horsemen of the new reaction – baptized not in the waters of the Jordan but on the banks of the Thames.
Either we emerge together – through strong words matched by decisive action – from a crisis that is without precedent in the past 70 years, or, across the broad spectrum of modern pre-totalitarian languages, where grimaces vie with belches as forms of expression, incompetence with vulgarity, and love of the abyss with hate for the other, the worst of humanity will come surging back.
By Tovah Lazaroff
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