Israel’s Genocide Must Not Go Unpunished, Speakers Say as Civil Society Organizations Conference Working on Question of Palestine Concludes

GENEVA, 3 April (Division for Palestinian Rights, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs) — Israel’s “live-streamed” genocide — supported by many Western States — must not go unpunished, participants heard in Geneva today during the second day of the two-day Conference of Civil Society Organizations working on the Question of Palestine — convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People — with speakers discussing best practices to ensure accountability and Israel’s compliance with the rulings of the International Court of Justice.

Ahmad Abuzneid, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, cited Washington, D.C., as “the greatest defender of genocide and apartheid in the world today”, continuing to arm, defend and cover for Israel. Meanwhile, thousands of people in the United States have committed acts of civil disobedience in the interest of Palestine, with social media helping to shift the perspective.  He spotlighted his organization’s 2023 campaign “Not On Our Dime”, which aims to remove charitable status from organizations providing funds to settler violence.  Moreover, he stressed that Israel must be isolated in every single avenue, not just at the United Nations, together with any nation standing with that country as it continues its genocidal assault.

Rula Shadid, Executive Director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, observed that, amid ongoing genocide, the narrative has been changing:  people are starting to comprehend better that this is a blockade, a genocide, a settler-colonial project with the main aim to displace Palestinians.  On State responsibility, she pointed out that numerous States that claim to be pioneers of the rule of law continue to be genocide supporters.  In turn, the situation has undermined liberties in European countries, she said, adding:  this is no longer just about Palestine, but about democracy itself, and the freedoms of expression and assembly.  On justice and accountability for Palestine, she highlighted grass-roots-level efforts, urging States to end relations with Israel, call for sanctions and impose arms embargos.

Outlining the most effective solutions, Diego Khamis, Executive Director of the Palestinian Community in Chile, underlined the need for a social and political majority supporting the legitimate claims of Palestinians.  After 7 October, Chile has consistently put pressure on Israel to respect international law and increased its support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Palestine is a cause that transcends Palestinians and is an ethical and moral duty of all societies now, he asserted.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers underscored that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians violates not only human rights but the sanctity of life itself.  Accordingly, they proposed the adoption of a standardized value of human life, with a monetary value put on Palestinian lives and development, and that Israel should be held responsible for providing compensation.

In the second plenary meetings, speakers focused on ensuring compliance with international mechanisms after the International Court of Justice rulings.

Among them was Thembela Ngculu, Counsellor at the South Africa Permanent Mission in Geneva, who said that Israel’s failure to comply with initial provisional measures and the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza compelled South Africa to approach the International Court of Justice on 6 March to request further measures.  On 28 March, the Court called on Israel to take all necessary and effective measures to ensure the unhindered provision to all concerned of humanitarian and aid assistance to Palestinians throughout Gaza.

Calling Israel “an extension of European colonialism”, Ahmed Abofoul, a Legal Expert at Al-Haq, said that South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice represents the Global South’s impatience with Western hypocrisy.  He criticized the West’s relentless campaign of distorting international law to support their stance — an example is the right to self-defence.  There is no doubt that an occupying Power does not have the right to self-defence against the people it is occupying, as those people, according to international humanitarian law, have the right to self-defence.  The West’s complicity has made Gaza “not only a graveyard of children but a graveyard of international law”, he asserted. On the UNRWA accusations, he observed that Western democracies moved fast to suspend funding without waiting for evidence, only to discover later that Israel was lying.

Saleh Hijazi, Apartheid-Free Policy Coordinator, Palestine BDS Committee, said Israel’s live-streamed and automated genocide — supported by the United States, Germany and other Western Powers — could be “the final blow” to the international law system.  And yet, the right thing had been crystal clear from the outset:  sanctions.  There must be an instant arms embargo and sanctions put in place, as Israel has failed to comply with the International Court of Justice ruling.  Also, the General Assembly should hold an emergency session to expel Israel from the United Nations and reconvene the Special Committee against Apartheid, he proposed.

Bethany Ellis, Watchlist Global Advocacy Adviser, said that, since 7 October 2023, over 13,000 children were reportedly killed:  more than all those killed across the world in the Children and Armed Conflict Agenda from 2019-2022.  In the coming weeks, the Secretary-General and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict will finalize the 2023 report and make their decisions on the list of perpetrators.  All Member States must stand up and demand that the list of perpetrators be complete — a continued failure to list Israeli Government forces and Palestinian armed groups would undermine the Agenda’s credibility, she cautioned.

Rounding out the discussion, Ibrahim Khraishi, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine to the United Nations in Geneva, underscored that the world has the responsibility “to awaken its conscience and move to action”.

For information media. Not an official record.