Human Rights Council urges states and businesses to cut off ties to Israeli settlements

Resolution, which also condemns Israeli construction in West Bank, passes by overwhelming majority despite Israeli efforts to thwart it.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted four resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday, including a motion condemning settlement construction in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The motion calls on states and firms to avoid both direct and indirect ties with the settlements.

The four resolutions are only declarative in nature.

Thirty-six member states voted in favor of the resolution criticizing Israeli settlements, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil. Nine states abstained: the United Kingdom, Latvia, Croatia, Albania, Georgia, Hungary, Panama, Paraguay and Rwanda. Only two countries – the United States and Togo – opposed the resolution.

A senior Foreign Ministry official admitted that Israel failed to thwart the resolution, but said it was successful in softening significant parts of it, as well as convincing almost half of the European Union member states to abstain. “Considering the circumstances, this is an achievement,” he said.

The resolution critical of the settlements calls on UN member states to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between Israel proper and the settlements, located beyond the pre-1967 lines. The motion also calls to refrain from providing Israel with any assistance that could be connected to the settlements and to avoid trade with the settlements.

The motion calls on member states to warn their citizens and firms of reputational, financial and legal risks they would be exposed to as a result of involvement in settlements-related activities, including through financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements, loans and the provision of services. The resolution calls on businesses to take every measure to avoid contributing to the “establishment, maintenance, development or consolidation of Israeli settlements.”

The Council also adopted three other motions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first concerns ensuring accountability for human-rights violations allegedly perpetrated by Israel in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel made great efforts to thwart the resolution, but it was carried by a majority of 30 member states with only two against and 15 abstaining.

The second resolution, concerning the Palestinians right to self-determination, was passed almost unanimously, with 43 states voting in favor, two abstaining, and two voting against the resolution.

The third resolution, which dealt with the status of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, passed with 41 states voting in favor, four abstaining, and two voting against it.

Another resolution condemned Israel for allegedly violating the human rights of Druze residents of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, criticizing the resolutions at the session as one-sided and called out the Council for its “absurdity” and “cynicism.”

“Again and again we ask: where is the sense of priority of the HRC? Where is its moral compass? ” the Israeli envoy told the session.

Raz Shechter said that Israel rejects all the resolutions, and attacked the Council for deepening the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of seeking its resolution. “Absurdity reaches yet again new heights in the Golan Resolution. The Syrian regime is killing its own people and for the last 6 years the country is torn apart by a bloody civil war. This Council still votes on this ridiculous resolution.”

In a harsh statement issued following the vote, the U.K. Mission to the United Nations said that although it generally supports the UN Human Rights Council, it is concerned by its flagrant bias against Israel and by the fact that none of the resolutions that passed Friday condemned Palestinian terrorism and incitement. Britain threatened that if the Human Rights Council’s attitude towards Israel remains unchanged it would in the future vote against any resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“So today we are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” the statement said. “If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories.”