Palestinian Authority Demands UN Countries Deny Entry To Israeli ‘Settlers’
Call comes as Abbas lobbies foreign governments to devise new international mechanism for peace talks with Israel
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged United Nations member states to impose an entry ban on Israelis living beyond the 1967 borders and to publish a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “blacklist” of companies doing business with the Jewish communities in the West Bank.
“Practical measures are needed against the settlers,” Maliki asserted at the opening of the UNHRC’s 37th session in Geneva. He stressed that the international community must do more to “confront the Israeli colonial settlement system.”
The new call is part of the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to lobby the international community to pressure Israel to stop building in Area C of the West Bank, territory designated for both Israeli administrative and security control by the 1993 Oslo Accords.
“The Israeli settlements are illegal and illegitimate in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Ammar Higazi, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN contended to The Media Line. “According to international law and human rights law, those who decided to live in colonial lands [settlers] that belong to another people must be denied access to other countries.” In Higazi’s estimation, Maliki’s initiative is an important step towards ending “the enterprise [settlements]” that risks jeopardizing the prospect of a future Palestinian state.
By contrast, Gad Shimron, an Israeli political analyst, Maliki’s the move “stupid” and described it as nothing more than “the usual Palestinian propaganda.” Instead of focusing on Israeli Jews living in the West Bank, he suggested the PA instead attend to its internal issues. “They can’t make peace between Fatah and Hamas, Ramallah and Gaza,” he affirmed to The Media Line. “How come they are asking the UN for such a thing?”
Shimron noted that “Israelis have never asked any country in the world to deny entry to Palestinian terrorists,” adding that the conflict can only be solved through bilateral negotiations leading to a comprehensive peace agreement.
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For his part, Shlomo Kattan, Mayor of the West Bank Jewish community of Alfei Menashe, highlighted that during then-U.S. president Barack Obama’s tenure Israel limited settlement construction but that did not bring about peace. “Our kids are growing and we must build new housing units for them,” he told to The Media Line, “there are massive empty lands in the West Bank for them [Palestinians] to build a state.”
The UNHRC is expected to pass at least five resolutions condemning Israel, the most against any country, a reality that on Wednesday prompted the United States to slam the body as biased. “It is unacceptable that the HRC treats Israel differently from every other UN member,” American Ambassador Mary Catherine Phee stated. “The institutional integrity of the Council demands that the efforts to delegitimize and isolate Israel through such blatant bias must end.”
On the sidelines of the session, Maliki met with Belgium’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, briefing them on the latest political developments in addition to purported Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. Maliki also reportedly informed the officials of the PA’s desire to run for a rotating position on the UN Security Council in the coming years.
Maliki made clear that the PA depends on the European Union to protect the viability of the two-state solution and called on Brussels to cooperate with President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently pressing foreign governments to devise a new multi-lateral mechanism for peace talks with Israel.
This approach was adopted following President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move tAbbas said effectively disqualified Washington from its historical role of “honest broker” between the two sides.
In parallel, the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization—the umbrella body recognized by the international community as the official voice of the Palestinian people—has threatened to take a series of steps to downgrade, if not altogether cut-off, relations with Israel.