Israel Bars UN on War Crimes, Ignores US Protests on Settlements
November 13, 2014
AntiWar.com & The Jerusalem Post
The Israeli government has announced that it is denying entry to members of the UN Human Rights Council commission charged with investigating war crimes committed during the summer Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the US has warned that approval of an initial plan to build 200 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, over the 1967 Green Line, could be harmful to the peace process.
Israel Bars UN Gaza Investigators from Country
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 12, 2014) -- The Israeli government has announced that it is denying entry to members of the UN Human Rights Council commission charged with investigating war crimes committed during the summer Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The Foreign Ministry says they will not cooperate in any way with the probe, and that they believe the UN will "obviously" find Israel guilty of war crimes for the near 1,500 Palestinian civilians killed during the conflict.
This is nothing unusual for Israel's far-right government, which angrily condemned the announcement that a probe was taking place, and which takes its non-cooperation and open hostility to such probes as a matter of course.
Similar probes during the 2009-09 invasion of Gaza, as well as the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon saw similar Israeli opposition. At the time the US was also condemning the UN for "bias" against Israel, though with US-Israeli ties at a long-term low, this may no longer be the case.
Foreign Ministry Says No Intention
To Cooperate with UN Gaza Probe
Ministry releases statement saying that it's already obvious the probe will find Israel guilty
Tovah Lazaroff / The Jerusalem Post
(November 12, 2014) -- The Foreign Ministry officially announced on Wednesday that it has no intention of cooperating with a UN Human Rights Council probe into Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza this summer, known as Operation Protective Edge.
The probe is headed by Canadian legal expert William Schabas, who previously stated that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be brought before the International Criminal Court on war crime charges.
In a statement to the media, the Foreign Ministry said that it already is obvious the probe will find Israel guilty. The probe mandate focuses on Israeli actions rather than those of Hamas, and the council itself has a history of hostile action toward Israel.
According to Channel 2, the three members of the Schabas commission were refused entry into Israel from Jordan on their way to Gaza.
The three UN-appointed officials are still in Amman. With the Egyptian Rafah crossing closed, the only entry into Gaza at this point is through Israel's Erez crossing.
US Again Slams Israel for Advancing
Housing Plans in Jerusalem
Daniel K. Eisenbud and Tovah Lazaroff / The Jerusalem Post
(November 12, 2014) -- The US on Wednesday warned that approval of an initial plan to build 200 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, over the 1967 Green Line, could be harmful to the peace process.
"We are deeply concerned by this decision particularly given the tense situation in Jerusalem," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Both the international community and the US are opposed to such building, Psaki said.
The US, she said, was concerned that it could "exacerbate the difficult situation on the ground." Such building, she said is "contrary to Israel's own stated goal of achieving a two-state solution."
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a senior aide to Abbas linked the building announcement to Thursday's visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan. "It looks like during every visit by Kerry to the region, [Israel] threatens to build new settler homes. This is a continuous escalation and contributes to a negative atmosphere."
Wednesday's approval of the Ramot project by the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee was just a preliminary stage of the planning process and would take years until construction began, according a Jerusalem Municipality official.
Radio reports said that city officials had approved additional 174 homes for construction in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Safafa and Beit Hanina.
According to Jerusalem Municipality spokeswoman Brachie Sprung, the housing planned for the sprawling residential hillside complex at the northern edge of Jerusalem is preliminary, and still must undergo several more stages to garner official approval. The land in question, she added, was purchased by a private contractor.
An Israeli official defended the project.
"This sort of thing is so routine," he said. "Does anyone really believe that building in Ramot is an obstacle to peace?" Just last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The neighborhoods where Jews live and where we are building have been in the hands of Israeli governments for the last 50 years." He added, "Everyone knows they will remain part of Israel in any peace arrangement."
An official added that the Palestinians themselves have acknowledged this principle both privately and publicly. "Jerusalem is a living city with real people," the official said. Stopping building in Jerusalem "is simply not feasible," he added.
City Councilman Meir Margalit (Meretz), who holds the east Jerusalem Portfolio, condemned the announcement as a provocation against Palestinians who hope to make east Jerusalem their future capital.
"I have a big problem with this, especially with the timing," said Margalit on Wednesday evening. "Instead of making efforts to calm the situation, they are pouring more gasoline onto the fire to make more provocations not only against the Palestinians, but against the international community."
Margalit said he was perplexed that the municipality chose such a explosive time in the capital to announce such a politically-charged development.
"It's hard for me to understand why the municipality can't wait for a better political situation and opportunity to do this," he said. "I don't care about these 200 houses because much bigger things are happening now, and this is a relatively small issue, but the timing shows that someone is interested in increasing the volatility."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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