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Washington condemns UN council's call to blacklist West Bank-based firms

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clash in the West Bank village of Tuqua, south-east of Bethlehem on October 8, 2015.
Musa al-Shaer/AFP
The Israeli PM responded to letter from 11 US lawmakers calling for probe into Israeli 'violations'

Washington on Wednesday condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling to establish a database of businesses operating in the West Bank.

"We continue to unequivocally oppose the very existence of that agenda item and therefore any resolutions ... that come from it," State Department spokesman John Kirby said, adding the body was guilty of "bias against Israel."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday responded fiercely to a letter sent by eleven US lawmakers – long-serving Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and ten House representatives – to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to investigate alleged Israeli and Egyptian violations of human rights.

"The IDF and the Israel Police do not engage in executions," Netanyahu said. "Israel's soldiers and police officers defend themselves against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them."

"Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who've been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists?" Netanyahu continued.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also responded, sending a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Read in which he called the letter's claims "outlandish" and accused the letter's authors of being "willing to put the lives of every Israeli at risk by weakening our armed forces as the threat from terrorists on our northern and southern borders increases."

Politico on Tuesday reported that they had obtained a letter dated February 17 in which the legislators raised claims of human rights abuses, including accusations of extrajudicial killings by both Israel and Egypt. They also mentioned reports of torture in Israel.

A law that prohibits the US from providing military aid to foreign military units that violate human rights, originally introduced by Leahy nearly two decades ago, was cited in the letter.

“In light of these reports we request that you act promptly to determine their credibility and whether they trigger the Leahy Law and, if so, take appropriate action called for under the law,” read the letter obtained by Politico.

The Leahy Law applies to funding for specific units, not necessarily to entire armies.

The letter also suggested that US military assistance is compromising efforts to monitor possible human rights abuses.

“According to information we have received, the manner in which US military assistance has been provided to Israel and Egypt, since the Camp David Accords, including the delivery of assistance at the military service level, has created a unique situation that has hindered implementation of normal mechanisms for monitoring the use of such assistance,” the letter stated..

Politico suggested that the "real impact" of the letter "may be political: Israel’s unusual, if not unprecedented inclusion with Egypt on such an inquiry is likely to rile Israel’s allies in Washington, who bristle at the notion that the Middle East’s only established democracy could be lumped in with a notorious human rights abuser like Egypt."

While the letter was evidently sent over a month ago, its existence was revealed amid a debate in Israel over an incident in which a soldier allegedly shot dead a wounded and subdued Palestinian attacker, who human rights NGO B'Tselem said no longer posed any threat.

The incident was captured on video, leading to the arrest of the soldier and condemnations by senior officials – and also sparking a national debate, with some on the Right arguing that the soldier was being unfairly demonized. Many also had criticism for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot for supposedly refusing to support the soldier. Hundreds protested in support of the soldier on Tuesday



No More, it isn't terrorism for occupied Palestinians to resist illegal occupation by Israeli soldiers. Against civilians, yes. Silly to describe humanitarian and justice intentions as 'Jew-hatred' ... I am assuming your reference is to Mr. Kerry.

More rubbish from you Michael. There are military/occupation laws in place owing to a legal occupation owing to Israel's defensive war in 1967. Murdering soldiers is not legal and is terrorism under occupation law.

Neil Gordon, the 'military/occupation laws in place' that you reference forbid the movement of Israeli citizens into the occupied territory and the practice of 'collective punishment' that Israel enacts on the innocent families of an assailant by destroying their homes. "Murdering soldiers is not legal and is terrorism under occupation law. " This is untrue. "Easy as taking candy of a baby hey Farmer...stick to the sun racing page, and keep in the betting shops of the east end of London with your muslim pals." .... so, you have knowledge of such establishments, James?

"forbid the movement of Israeli citizens"? rubbish - no such law. The Geneva Conventions (which incidentally doesn't apply here) talks about the "forceful transfer" population. The only time Israelis were transferred forcibly was out of Gaza! Not to mention that the territory is disputed, since there has never been a sovereign country called "Palestine" in the region. In terms of "collective punishment", Palestinians know full well the consequences - the most appealing of which is being compensated financially by the PA. So either the terrorists are idiots or wily business people. According to international warfare law, combatants (resistance fighters or otherwise) must basically be identifiable by uniform. I didn't realize that jeans and a coat constituted a military uniform. Once again, go ahead, condone murder...

ARTICLE 49 [ Link ] Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased. The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated. The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place. The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. THE OCCUPYING POWER SHALL NOT DEPORT OR TRANSFER PARTS OF ITS OWN CIVILIAN POPULATION INTO THE TERRITORY IT OCCUPIES. "Palestinians know full well the consequences" Your statement here is irrelevant ... the Conventions are being breached. "Once again, go ahead, condone murder..." Do you condone the shooting of the incapacitated assailant by the soldier recently?

You left out the word "forcible" again Michael. Yes, it does make a difference! In this instance I do not condone the killing of the terrorist - but I couldn't give a rats a** if a terrorist dies as a consequence of their murderous intentions. Where's the "collective" punishment if there is reward? Your argument is flawed.

Weasel words again, Neil. I posted ARTICLE 49. The first sentence does indeed forbid the forced transfer. Had you read to the end of the article you would have read that it is also forbidden to transfer parts of its civilian population too. In encouraging , protecting by its military and subsidising the settlers Israel is doing just that. Good that you condemn the killing of the terrorist. To punish the family for the sins of one family member is collective, irrespective of Israel's benefit from it. It is your logic and comprehension that is flawed on this point.

"Good that you condemn the killing of the terrorist."? Well, James ... do you ... or don't you?

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