Israel’s foreign ministry accused the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) of discrimination after the UN’s top human rights body appointed three officials on Friday to conduct a fact-finding mission on how the Israeli settlements impact lives of Palestinians. Israel has illegal settlements in West Bank and Jerusalem - which has been a real bone of contention between Israel and Palestine since 1967. The standoff has also resulted in several armed conflicts, but both the sides are unwilling to recede from their positions.
The council’s president, Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, has named three women to probe the effects of Israel’s West Bank settlements on social, economic and cultural sides of Palestinians. The women named to the panel are Asma Jahangir of Pakistan, Christine Chanet of France and Unity Dow of Botswana. Israel says that the UNHCR has deliberately singled out the country and the council is not focusing where grave human rights violations are being committed under the auspices of state functionaries.
Israel and Palestine have virtually been at loggerheads with each other since 1967, when they fought their first war. Palestine and some other Arab countries as well believe Israel has encroached on their land and its existence in the region is illegitimate. During the six days of the 1967 war, Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Israel has been using violence and force against Palestinians to keep its control over the occupied area.
Israel has built settlements in the East Jerusalem and West Bank that are termed illegal by Palestinian authorities as well as international bodies. The settlements are a bone of contention between the both states and a stumbling block in the way of peace. Though exact numbers about Israeli settlements are not available, a safe estimate suggests that Israel has built more than 300,000 illegal settlements in the West Bank, while East Jerusalem houses around 200,000 illegal settlers.
In the first week of June, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to accept a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. He also warned Israel that the window of opportunity to peace in the region might close if the country did not respond to the proposal forthwith. The changing political landscape in the region and Arab uprising in different Middle Eastern countries may damage the peace process proposed by Palestinian president. Abbas rolled out solution of the decades-old conflict while speaking at a World Economic Forum conference in Istanbul.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also supported the call of the Palestinian president and said the international community should help resolve the decades-old dispute between both the states. Palestine and Israel has had dialogue a number of times to find out a possible way to resolve the conflict, but unfortunately it has not so far. Israel blames Palestine for failure of talks and vice versa. The fact of the matter is both sides are not willing to move an inch back from their stated stances.