Adalah to UN: Israel trying to settle Palestinian issue domestically, while suspending international law

Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara: Israeli similarly prevented Palestinian refugees from returning and seized their homes and property based on Israeli domestic law.

Suhad Bishara, senior attorney at Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, participated in "The Ongoing Nakba" session at United Nations headquarters in New York City on 17 May 2018. She discussed human rights violations committed by Israel against four sub-groups of the Palestinian people: refugees in the diaspora, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Gazans, and West Bankers.


Speaking at the session, Attorney Bishara stated that, “Israel is turning the Palestinian issue into a domestic issue to be decided in accordance with Israeli law as far as possible. This is what Israel did with the refugees, whom it prevented from returning and seized their homes and property based on Israeli domestic law. Israel is also suspending and distorting international law for the purpose of implementing its policies.”


Attorney Bishara further indicated that Israel did not only deny the return of the refugees and confiscate their land using Israeli law in a manner that contradicts international law. In addition, it prevented the return of Palestinians whom the state had displaced internally within Israel to their homes and villages, and then refused to restore their property to them, suspending their constitutional rights merely on the basis of their being Palestinians.


Concerning Palestinian citizens of Israel, Attorney Bishara spoke about the state’s racist policies of forced displacement of Palestinian Bedouin citizens in the Naqab (Negev) desert region of southern Israel. She further dealt with the appropriation of Bedouin land in the 1950s, and the transfer of its residents to other locations.


Regarding East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank, Attorney Bishara discussed the Settlements Regularization Law, which Adalah, the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights are challenging in a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court. She set out the Israeli Government’s response to the petition, in which it argued that it was the “natural right” of Jewish Israelis to live in the West Bank, and that the “Israeli legislator [the Knesset] is the authorized legislator in the area.”


Attorney Bishara spoke about the “Great Return March” protests in Gaza, and the Israeli military's use of live ammunition against unarmed protestors. She also discussed the petition that Adalah and Al Mezan filed against the policy of live fire and snipers, and Israel’s distortion of international law in order to justify its use of live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrators.


At the conclusion of her address, Attorney Bishara made connections between the aforementioned Palestinian populations via “Israel’s strategy of suspending international in order to pursue racist practices and to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territories. It further aims to secure its policy of maintaining control, supremacy, and to consolidate its policies of creeping sovereignty, racial segregation, and demographic engineering.


“Any resolution of the Palestinian question must be based on rights and entail the end of the Occupation, the return of the refugees, and the end of racist policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”