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African Group lashes out at Israeli occupation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An overview of the UN Human Rights Council during a debate at the United Nations in Geneva (Photo by Reuters)

The 54-member African Group has addressed a fiery statement to the United Nations (UN)’s rights body severely criticizing Israel for its grave violations of Palestinian rights.

Monday saw the UN Human Rights Council debating Israel’s human rights record under its Agenda Item 7 as the body does during its every session.

The African Group is the body’s largest regional group and the only one whose territory corresponds to the continent’s borders.

The regional grouping “calls for putting an immediate end to Israel’s occupation, settlements, blockade on two million people in the Gaza Strip, the detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, and all other forms of collective punishment targeting the oppressed Palestinian people,” the statement read.

Palestinians have a right “to self-determination and to a State on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967,” it said. Such a state, the countries said, should have East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East al-Quds. The settlements are considered by the international community as illegal.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

Figures, meanwhile, show that over 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, dozens of whom are serving multiple life sentences.

The statement added, “The international community must rise up to its responsibility and take urgent action to address this situation, as it strives to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world, it is incumbent upon us to pay our primary attention to the plight of the People in the occupied Palestinian territories, who suffer dire human rights situation as a result of the occupation.”

The United States always refuses to participate in council debates on Item 7, which it denounces as biased against Israel.

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