posted on Wed 8 May 2019 2:19 PM
Arria-formula Meeting on “Israeli Settlements and Settlers: Core of the Occupation, Protection Crisis and Obstruction of Peace”

On 9 May, at the initiative of the Permanent Missions to the UN of Indonesia, Kuwait, and South Africa, there will be an Arria-formula meeting on Israel’s construction of settlements, entitled “Israeli Settlements and Settlers: Core of the Occupation, Protection Crisis and Obstruction of Peace”. The meeting, which will be held at 3pm in the ECOSOC chamber, is expected to be webcast. It will be chaired by Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi. The Foreign Minister of the Observer State of Palestine, Riyad al-Maliki, is also expected to attend. All Council members are invited to participate and make statements. Other UN member states, observer missions, accredited non-governmental organisations, and the media are invited to attend but not speak.

Four panellists are planning to participate in the meeting, and the co-chairs are hoping to foster interaction between the panellists and Council members. The panellists will include:  John Quigley, a professor at the Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University, who has spoken and written extensively on efforts to create a Palestinian state; Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, a human rights attorney; Mohammed Khatib, a Palestinian lawyer and board member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee; and James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute in Washington DC. In a concept note circulated ahead of the meeting, the organisers propose areas for the speakers to cover, including legal responsibilities of an occupying power and international obligations regarding the right of self-determination.

The concept note argues that the two-state solution is being jeopardised “by Israel’s illegal construction of settlements and transfer of its settlers to Palestinian territory occupied since June 1967, including East Jerusalem”. The note maintains that this is part of Israel’s effort to change “the demographic composition, character and status” of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It also describes what the organisers of the meeting argue are unlawful policies that stem from the establishment of settlements, such as forced displacement of Palestinians and the demolition of homes and properties, among others. The note calls for Israel to be held accountable for all breaches of international law stemming from settlement activities and condemns what it sees as impunity for settlers’ actions. Also with regard to accountability, it calls on the international community and specifically the Security Council to use its tools to hold Israel accountable for its “illegal behaviour” and to impose consequences if Israel does not act in line with its legal obligations.

The last meeting of the Council on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine) was held on 29 April in an open debate format (S/PV.8517). Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that during the most recent quarterly reporting period Israel had continued settlement activity in Area C on the West Bank. Several Council members mentioned Israeli settlements and their negative impact on the situation, including China, Equatorial Guinea, France, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, and the UK.

The last written report on the implementation of resolution 2334, published on 20 March, noted that “the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continues unabated.” The report also said that increased numbers of settler-related attacks and harassment are grounds for concern.

Meanwhile, there has been a recent flare-up of violence on the ground. On Friday (3 May) protests erupted over Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza. According to reports, two Israeli soldiers were wounded by a Gaza sniper, and four Palestinians were killed (two were Hamas fighters killed by airstrikes and two were protesters shot by Israeli soldiers near the Gaza fence). In the period 4-6 May, Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched over 600 rockets from Gaza into Israel. In response, Israel, according to its military sources, attacked 350 militant targets. At least four Israelis and 25 Palestinians were killed, according to media reports. A ceasefire brokered through the efforts of Egypt, Qatar, and the UN was put in place the afternoon of 6 May.