Mitchell Commission Report Positive But Flawed
Washington, DC, May 21 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) described the report by the Mitchell Commission about the causes of the conflict in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel as positive but flawed, and having been overtaken by recent events. ADC President Hala Maksoud said “While there are many positive aspects to the Commission’s report, especially the demand that Israel halt all settlement activity, it fails to adequately address the root cause of the conflict, which is Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”
The most positive aspect of the report is the call for Israel to “freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements.” Since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in 1993, Israeli settlements increased vastly, with at least 80,000 additional settlers introduced into the occupied territories. A report issued yesterday by the Israeli group Peace Now says that Israel has created at least 15 new settlements since January. The avowed purpose of the settlements is to make Palestinian independence and statehood impossible. They are in complete violation of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits all settlement activity in occupied territories, defining them as a human rights abuse against the occupied population. They are also prohibited by numerous UN Security Council resolutions. The International Committee of the Red Cross recently stated that Israeli settlement activity constitutes a “war crime.”
The Commission report completely dismisses Israeli claims that the uprising was organized and orchestrated by the PNA, and recognizes that Israel’s use of deadly force against unarmed protesters was the key factor in sparking and fueling the rebellion. However, the report fails to acknowledge the urgent need for international protection for the Palestinian people, arguing that even an international observer force, the minimum one would expect under such circumstances, cannot be created without Israeli approval. This logic is in marked contrast to approaches taken in other conflicts, such as those in the Balkans, in recent years. Recent Israeli escalations, including the illegal use of American-supplied F-16 warplanes to bomb defenseless Palestinian towns under Israeli occupation has made the need for such protection crystal clear. In light of these developments since the report was submitted, ADC calls upon the Bush Administration to support international efforts to provide protection to the Palestinian people and to suspend further weapons sales to Israel.
Maksoud observed that “The Commission calls for a resumption of negotiations without specifying that what is to be negotiated is an end to the occupation, as required by international law and numerous UN Security Council resolutions. For the Palestinian people, the occupation has meant 34 years of political disempowerment, impoverishment, dependence on work and travel permits, curfews, land confiscations, house demolitions, torture, and living under separate and unequal legal systems, all enforced by a hostile foreign army. Such oppression cannot continue. Simply calling for an end to violence, without acknowledging that the occupation imposes a system of violence on every aspect of the daily lives of the Palestinian people, misses the point entirely. Israel must be told in no uncertain terms by the United States and the international community that the occupation must end quickly and completely.”