ZFA statement on the UN Commission of Inquiry Report

Advocacy, News and Views, Official Statements

The Zionist Federation of Australia rejects the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry and calls on all those interested in a peaceful settlement to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to do the same.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “Through omissions, obfuscations and a lack of context, the report defies the reality on the ground for the purpose of delegitimising Israel. The Commissioners have long been antagonistic toward Israel. Indeed, it is clear that this was a key criteria for being selected for this role. In any other forum they would have been disqualified for obvious conflicts of interest. The constitution and workings of this Commission of Inquiry was so blatantly biased, that governments around the world – including Australia – distanced themselves from it.”

Mr Leibler continued, “The Australian Government raised “fundamental concerns about the nature of the commission of inquiry” upon its founding. These concerns have proven justified. We would expect anyone, including the Australian Government, who, like us, desire a peaceful, negotiated outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to unequivocally reject this report.”

Of the Commissioners’ objectives, Mr Leibler said, “Anti-Israel activists – including these three Commissioners – regularly and falsely accuse Israel of heinous crimes in order to render it morally beyond the pale to well-meaning people who otherwise know little about the conflict. This report, cloaked in the language of human rights, makes a mockery of the objectives of the Human Rights Council and all those who are fighting against actual human rights abusers and international oppressors.”

Mr Leibler concluded, “This report will reduce Israel’s trust in the intentions of the international community, encourage Palestinians to continue to refuse to negotiate and ultimately makes peace less likely. This report is a travesty.”


The report’s main claim is that Israel has made occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip permanent (and thus illegal), despite the fact that:

  • Israel withdrew from Gaza 17 years ago
  • Israel’s official position—since 1967—is that it seeks negotiations to determine the final status of the territories (i.e. end the occupation)
  • It has entered into such negotiations on multiple occasions – with Egypt, Jordan and the PLO
  • The Palestinians have been offered a state no less than four times since 2000 and have always refused
  • That Palestinians have refused to enter negotiations since 2014.

The report also makes no mention of why the occupation began, no mention of Israel’s attempts – since 1967 – of ending the occupation. Nor does it mention the refusal by the Arab League to negotiate with Israel in 1967, the refusal until 1988 by the PLO to negotiate with Israel, the four refusals by the PLO of statehood between 1988 and 2014, or the PLO’s refusal, since 2014, to negotiate with Israel.

Nor does it mention the decades of terrorism against Israel or the tens of thousands of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas after Israel ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip. The fact that the conflict with Hamas did not end when the occupation of Gaza ended makes negotiations to end the occupation of the West Bank imperative, but this is completely ignored by the Commissioners.

The report disregards all Israeli or academic sources that don’t fit in with their pre-conceived narrative that Israel is solely to blame.

Legally speaking, by calling the occupation illegal, and calling on the international community – through the highly politicised UN and International Court of Justice to agree with it – the report is attempting to remove the Palestinian requirement to negotiate. Palestinians have refused to negotiate since 2014, and this report attempts to bolster this Palestinian tactic. However, negotiations and mutual compromise is the only way to achieve sustainable peace.

In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed an agreement in which they committed themselves to resolve the conflict (i.e. end the occupation) through negotiations. It is not Israel that is refusing to negotiate.

The main reason that Palestinians have refused to negotiate is that creating a state through negotiations requires making concessions, such as on the so-called ‘right of return’, that goes against the maximalist promises the Palestinian leadership has always made to its people.

Rather than ready its people for a future alongside Israel, the Palestinian leadership have long preferred confrontation with Israel, and the ability to have a willing international community place pressure on Israel through anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and trumped-up commissions of inquiry.

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