‘US report ignores human rights abuses taking place in Golan’

PNN/ Bethlehem/

Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights (“Al-Marsad”) in a statement  condemned the United States Department of State’s Israel and the Golan Heights 2018 Human Rights Report (“Report”) and its failure to accurately and appropriately label and discuss the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan (“Golan”).

“The Report runs counter to international law, provides misleading information, and ignores many of the human rights abuses taking place in the Golan,” Al-Marsad said in a statement.

The Report includes the Golan in its “Israel” section even though the Golan remains internationally recognized as occupied Syrian territory. The Report characterizes the Golan as “the Israel-controlled Golan Heights.” Prior reports on the region characterized the Golan as “Israeli-occupied.” Israel acquired control of the Golan through military aggression in 1967 in direct violation of international law. Since 1967, the Golan has remained internationally recognized as an occupied territory. After Israel tried to annex the Golan in 1981, the United Nations Security Council, through Resolution 497, declared Israel’s attempts to alter the status of the region “null and void and without international legal effect.” The United States voted in favor of Resolution 497, which unequivocally recognizes the Golan as “occupied Syrian” territory and labels Israel an “occupying power.”

“Furthermore, the Report is misleading in how it confronts the Golan,” Al-Marsad added. “For instance, one of the only pieces of the Report relevant to the Golan states that Israel has “facilitated the entry” of Syrians into Israel to receive medical treatment. This statement misleadingly seems to claim that Israel helped Syrians attempting to enter Israel for medical treatment. The truth is, Israel has shown little willingness to ease the suffering of Syrians in Syria proper and has not accepted a single Syrian refugee. In fact, Israel has long maintained a very strict border crossing policy with Syria that has kept native Syrians in the Golan separated from their families and friends who the Israeli army forcibly displaced out of the Golan 50 years ago. The diaspora of Syrians Israel displaced decades ago now numbers well over 400,000, many of whom have been systematically denied their right of return and greatly impacted by the Syrian conflict.”

The statement also said that the report is also problematic because it does not address Israel’s numerous, blatant human rights violations and discriminatory policies in the Golan.

“Namely, the Report does not discuss Israel’s discriminatory business regulations, restrictive building and village expansion policies, and oppressive institutionalization of occupation. The Report ignores the bias education curriculum, systematic cultural cleansing, and restrictive residency rules that Israel has pursued in the native Syrian communities of the Golan,” Al-Marsad added.

The Report has followed the United States government’s signaling in recent months that it will offer more and more validity to Israel’s claimed “sovereignty” over the Golan. Al-Marsad denounces the Report and its failure to adequately address the human rights tragedy in the Golan. Al-Marsad continues to condemn the United States government’s actions seeking to validate Israel’s claim over the Golan.
To its part, an official statement by the State of Palestine said the report is damning evidence of the Trump administration’s hostility towards the Palestinian people, their national identity and rights, as well as the universal values of human rights.

“The “report” was devoid of proper political and legal context, namely the wilful omission of the legal qualification of occupation in relation to the territory of the State of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights. Additionally, the “report” reasserted the US administration’s complicity with the Israeli agenda of colonial occupation and oppression by attempting to whitewash Israeli crimes and excuse human rights violations against the Palestinian people,” statement said.

The State of Palestine also rejected the US administration’s negation of the national identity of the Palestinian people and their deep historic roots by describing them as so-called ‘residents’ in their own homeland, saying this racist and hostile position reaffirms the fact that the US administration is now an accomplice in the violations of the Palestinian people’s human and national rights.

The statement concluded by saying that the international community has a responsibility and vested interest in ensuring that the doctrine of universal human rights is not further undermined by this administration.