8 January 2023
ICHR position statement on the Israeli measures and racist government decisions
The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) strongly condemns arbitrary and racist practices of the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people. Most recently, the Israeli Cabinet decided to impose a set of punitive measures on the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to Palestinian legal action and recourse to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legality of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The ICHR is of the view that threats by Israeli extremist ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich against Palestinians reflect the far-right Israeli government approach. These threats are an explicit call for the Israeli occupying forces and settlers to launch terrorism against Palestinians. Both ministers have also threatened to tighten the grip on Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli detention centres. Among other arbitrary actions, the Israeli occupying authorities will prevent legal representation, reduce water quantities and cantina portions, and ban family visits to Palestinian prisoners.
In addition to storming into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Ben-Gvir threatened to impose economic sanctions, which will indirectly affect Palestinian citizens, rights, and ability to make a decent living. Led by Ben-Gvir, the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) party announced its coalition deal with the Likud party in December 2022. The agreement states that a regulation will be enacted to allow for the imposition of the death penalty on Palestinians who carry out operations against the Israeli occupying forces. This is perceived as giving the Israeli occupying army and security agencies the green line to violate the right to life of, and extrajudicially kill, Palestinians.
The ICHR cautions against the PA inability to provide services to, and fulfil obligations towards, Palestinian citizens. In this context, on 5 January 2023, the Israeli Cabinet approved the transfer of some ILS 139 million of the PA clearance revenues to Israeli families, so-called victims of Palestinian terrorism. Starting with the PA balance of payments, Israel has deducted PA payments to the families of Palestinian political prisoners.
The Israeli government targets and imposes punitive measures on Palestinian human rights organisations, which refute the Israeli version before international courts. This reflects a direct targeting of Palestinian basic rights. Not only is the occupying Power involved in unlawful practices, but it also prosecutes those who attempt to hold it to account before international justice.
The ICHR holds the occupying Power responsible for the consequences of its punitive policies against Palestinians in the oPt. These include freezing of construction plans in Area C under Israel’s security and administrative control, targeting of Palestinian land and natural resources, and encroachments on Palestinian lives and properties. In addition to forced displacement, Israel implements discriminatory policies, places restrictions on movement, and obstructs human rights and freedoms of Palestinians. Israel further denies the right of Palestinians to have recourse to international courts with a view to seeking redress and bringing an end to practices of the occupying Power against the Palestinian people.
Rather than paying lip service, the ICHR calls the international community to take immediate action, stand up to the Israeli extremist government, and ward off ongoing violations, racist policies, and collective punishment. The international community should make serious efforts to provide protection to Palestinians and end the occupying Power’s denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination. Immediate steps must also be taken to lift immunity that the occupying Power enjoys on the international level. The protracted occupation of the oPt must be brought to an end, and so must Israeli illegal and arbitrary practices against Palestinians and Palestinian basic rights. Israel will no longer escape accountability nor enjoy impunity. The Israeli government will be forced to respect the rules of international law, its obligations as an occupying Power, and commitments under international human rights conventions.