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US continues support for Israel at Palestinian expense

US continues support for Israel at Palestinian expense

Urgent need for New Zealand's voice to be heard in defence of human rights

Leslie Bravery | Palestine Human Rights Campaign |www.palestine.org.nz

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved three resolutions regarding the occupied Palestinian territory and Palestinian rights during the 28th regular session which ended on 27 March. The resolutions called for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, "including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity . . .”, confirmed the Palestinian people's right to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources and condemned the continuation of all settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States was the only UNHRC member to vote against the three resolutions.

The UNHRC agreements highlighted the illegalities practised by Israel:

• The construction and expansion of settlements particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

• The destruction of Palestinian homes and the accompanyingevictions of families.

• Continuing construction of Israel's annexation Wall.

The UNHRC session also discussed the increasing Israeli settler violence, the excessive use of force used by Israeli military against Palestinian civilians, the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the appalling suffering of Palestinian prisoners (including minors) in Israeli prisons.

The resolutions reflected the failure of peace talks to bring any relief to the more than 60-years of belligerent Israeli military occupation. The granting in 2014 of a PLO request to join the International Criminal Court, paved the way for the prosecution of Israeli leaders for alleged war crimes. Israel's desperate reaction to this possibility, the freezing of the transfer of $127 million in taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians, was an implicit admission of the occupying power's sense of vulnerability regarding possible prosecutions. The revenues being withheld make up around two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's annual budget and Israel's behaviour underlines not only its immense power over the Palestinian economy but also its disregard for the welfare and human rights of the Palestinian people.

The negative vote by the United States at the 28th UNHRC session demonstrates the urgent need for New Zealand to step up independently and make use of its position at the Security Council to voice the outrage felt by the majority of the world community. New Zealand's humanitarian duty is to its add its voice to the call for Israel to be held accountable through the appropriate use of sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

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