Watchdog Testimony at Human Rights Council Presses UN Over Killing of Palestinian Authority Critic
In testimony during a standing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session on alleged Israeli human rights abuses, a watchdog group accused the UN of neglecting violations by the Palestinian Authority, including the recent death of Palestinian social activist Nizar Banat.
On June 24, Banat — one of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ most prominent critics — died after a brutal arrest and beating by PA security forces, prompting West Bank protests against the government.
The 47th session of the UNHCR met Friday to debate the recurring agenda item 7, on the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”
Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told the body he had concluded that Israeli settlements constituted a “war crime,” and called for support for an International Criminal Court probe against Israel.
In later remarks at the hearing, Hillel Neuer — Executive Director of the Geneva-based UN Watch — contrasted the UNHRC’s focus on Israeli actions with the “impunity” he said was enjoyed by by the Palestinian Authority.
“Here in the UN, we just heard repeated and false accusations against Israel,” Neuer said. “But in reality on the ground in Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, thousands of Palestinians are actually demonstrating against the Palestinian Authority” to protest Banat’s death.
“More than two dozen PA security officers raided his home at 3:30am. They severely beat Banat with metal clubs and rifle butts in front of his wife and young children before taking him away,” Neuer continued. “When Palestinians protested his killing, PA forces attacked them with batons, tear gas and stun grenades.”
“Why is the PA acting with impunity? Is it because those who claim to care about Palestinians, about human rights and international law, never show the slightest interest when Israel cannot be blamed?” he said. “Would Nizar Banat still be alive if this Council had adopted just one resolution holding the PA to account, instead of 95 resolutions on Israel?”
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland has condemned Banat’s death, and called for an investigation.
In a recent meeting with a Palestinian security official, European diplomats said they were told the killing was an “accident,” the New York Times reported Wednesday