UN Commissioner: ‘Apartheid’ not enough to describe Israeli settler colonialism

Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East has come and gone. Biden dropped in on Israeli and Palestinian leaders, then flew to Saudi Arabia for the top of his agenda—getting the Saudis to pump more oil, countering Russia and China’s challenge to US hegemony in the region, and uniting Arabs and Israelis against archenemy Iran. Israel’s permanent subjugation of 5 million Palestinians did not come up. Accountability for the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was soft-pedaled. Against the backdrop of US indifference on these and other human rights matters, a handful of international bodies are taking a much closer look, and building a legal case. One of them, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, has just issued its first report on the root causes of violence in Palestine in May 2021, triggered by the imminent eviction of Palestinian families from their homes, and the police attack on worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque which killed nearly three hundred Palestinians, including 66 children, and thirteen Israelis. Independent journalist David Kattenburg interviews Miloon Kothari, a former UN Human Rights Commissioner and one of the three members of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

David Kattenburg is a university science instructor and radio/web journalist based in Breda, North Brabant, the Netherlands.


Transcript

David Kattenburg:  Hello and welcome to The Real News Network. I’m David Kattenburg. Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East has come and gone. Biden dropped in on Israeli and Palestinian leaders, then flew to Saudi Arabia for the top of his agenda: Getting the Saudis to pump more oil, countering Russia and China’s challenge to US hegemony in the region, and uniting Arabs and Israelis against archenemy Iran. Israel’s permanent subjugation of five million Palestinians — Apartheid, many call it — Did not come up. Accountability for the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was soft-peddled.

Against the backdrop of US indifference on these and other human rights matters, a handful of international bodies are taking a much closer look and building a legal case. One of them has just issued its first report. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry, it’s called, or Pillay Commission after its chair, Indian rights advocate Navi Pillay. Its mission? To unravel the root causes of violence that broke out in Palestine-Israel in May 2021, triggered by the imminent eviction of Palestinian families from their homes and by confrontations between worshipers and police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Almost 300 Palestinians died, 66 of them children, and 13 Israelis. Thousands were injured, mostly Palestinians. Unlike previous bodies, the Pillay Commission’s mandate is open-ended. It submitted its first report to the Human Rights Council in early June, days before Biden’s visit to the region.

Today, I’m joined by one of the commission’s three members, Miloon Kothari. An architect by training, Kothari has published widely on the topic of housing as a human right and served as the first UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. Kothari also helped found a support group for the Universal Periodic Review process. Every four years, UN member states receive recommendations aimed at boosting their compliance with rights treaties. States can either commit to implement these or simply note them. Sometimes — As in Israel’s case — They can refuse.

Miloon Kothari:  It’s very good to be on this program. My name is Miloon Kothari. I’m a scholar-activist from India. I’ve been working on human rights for the last 30-odd years. I’ve been primarily focusing on economic, social, and cultural rights. The issue of housing, land displacement, evictions. I was formally a special rapporteur on adequate housing with the UN Human Rights Council from 2000 to 2008. I also set up several civil society organizations in India.

Lately, I’ve been doing quite a lot of work on the Universal Periodic Review, which is a peer review mechanism at the Human Rights Council where the comprehensive human rights record of all UN member states is assessed every four and a half years. And quite a lot of training on the UN with governments, with national human rights institutions, with UN teams, with civil society.

I was appointed in July of last year to the commission. The Human Rights Council established an independent inquiry commission to investigate human rights issue in the occupied Palestinian territories, but also inside the Green Line in Israel. There are some very unique features to this Commission of Inquiry, which I can speak about later. We are three commissioners. The chair of the commission is Navi Pillay from South Africa, who was formerly high commissioner for human rights. And the third member is Chris Sidoti, who is an expert on national human rights institutions, and he is from Australia. The three of us comprise this Commission of Inquiry.

David Kattenburg:  And what is the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry?

Miloon Kothari:  The mandate of the commission is… What I wanted to raise is there are several unique features to this commission. The Human Rights Council, of course, has had commissions of inquiry on the occupied territories before. I think there were seven of them. But what distinguishes our commission — And in a way I would consider them redeeming features — Is first of all that it’s an ongoing mandate. Earlier commissions had to be renewed annually, but we have an ongoing mandate, which gives us the scope to do longer-term thinking, envisioning, looking at historical issues. That temporal scope is very important. That’s what has caused some concern amongst certain countries. We can get into that.

The second important aspect is that we have been asked to look at the root causes of the conflict. We are not looking necessarily at specific instances of violations, but we are looking at root causes of recurrent tensions, instability, and retraction of the conflict, including systematic discrimination and oppression based on national, ethnic, racial, or religious identity. That’s a very important aspect of our mandate which allows to take a historical perspective, which allows us to look at the history of settler colonialism, to look at issues of discrimination, and to look at issues of what are the consequences historically, and what have been the accumulated consequences of occupation by Israel?

The third aspect, which is very important, is the geographical scope. Previous commissions of inquiry and the work of the UN special rapporteur on the occupied territories were limited to the occupied areas, essentially the West Bank and Gaza. But our mandate includes Israel. It includes all areas inside the Green Line. Essentially, we are looking at the human rights situation from the river to the sea, which is also very important because that’s a critical aspect of what has gone wrong, in a sense. The fourth aspect —

David Kattenburg:  And then you would argue that Israel… I was going to ask you this. Because in your report, there’s a phrase in there about Israel itself. What some refer to kind of quaintly as Israel proper, when in fact… I mean, anybody who goes and travels there, as I have just recently, knows that the Green Line is largely fictitious. It’s been erased. Israel is really, for all intents and purposes, a single state from the river to the sea. Your commission, in your report, you talk about the linkage. The compelling linkage between what goes on in the “occupied territories” and what goes on inside Israel itself. Thoughts on this?

Miloon Kothari:  You’re absolutely right, of course. In terms of the governance issues, the functioning of the state, the national laws in terms of what Israel itself recognizes as the state, in terms of what the United Nations recognizes as the state of Israel as a member of the United Nations, I think that is a distinction that has to be made. Now, you’re absolutely right that, when we look at the kinds of discrimination inside the Green Line, when we look at the historical occupation issues, there are many, many similarities. But we have to treat it differently. The reason we are, obviously, wanting to make the linkage is precisely because of the point you raise. That, actually, what has transpired in the occupied territories since ’67 is something that had already been happening inside the Green Line since ’48. The levels of discrimination, the different laws, the dispossession of Palestinian Israelis.

I think it’s important to make that distinction, but then also to draw the parallels. Because that’s something that the UN has not successfully been able to do because the earlier mandates only included the occupied territories. Except for the work of the United Nations treaty bodies. You mentioned the Human Rights Committee. But then they were limited to only looking inside the Green Line. We have an opportunity to make that historical link and to see how the entire area has to be treated in terms of redressing the violations that are there.

David Kattenburg:  In your interim report, which you presented to the Human Rights Council in early June, this was essentially a review of past determinations and findings and recommendations from a host of other UN human rights bodies and mechanisms and so forth. And so this was not a work of your own analysis so much as it was a review of past findings. Could you comment on that methodologically? How you arrived at that end? And then, of course, the bottom line is that none of the findings and recommendations, none of the myriad recommendations made by past human rights bodies and mechanisms have been abided by by Israel. Israel has ignored everything, and it’s done so with complete impunity.

Miloon Kothari:  That’s correct. First of all, the resolution from the Human Rights Council that created our mandate explicitly asked us to draw out the essence from all the earlier work that had been done by the human rights bodies. We actually went beyond. We didn’t look at only the commissions on inquiry, but we also looked at the work done historically by the mandate of the special rapporteur on occupied territories. We looked at the work done by treaty bodies that are monitoring different treaties that Israel has ratified and it’s reporting on. You are correct. But I just want to say that that was not the only part covered in the report. We also had done a mission to Amman. We had heard testimonies from 30 individuals who came from inside the Green Line, who came from Gaza and the West Bank. We had leaders of both Jewish and Palestinian civil society. We had ministers from the Palestinian Authority. We had academics from inside Israel. It was partly based on that. We also did quite a few online interviews because we are not allowed to go into the areas.

David Kattenburg:  Israel would not allow you into the country, nor would —

Miloon Kothari:  Israel has, from the beginning —

David Kattenburg:  …Nor would Egypt allow you entry into Gaza.

Miloon Kothari:  So far they haven’t, but we keep trying. But Israel from the beginning has said they will not cooperate with the mandate. Even our attempts to meet with the Israeli ambassador in Geneva have received no response. So, we have to collect our data and our evidence based on the people we can interview in the surrounding countries. We will be visiting Lebanon. We will be visiting Egypt. Possibly Syria. And continuing to do this work. And we are hoping that we will be allowed into Gaza at some point.

We are also hoping that Israel will allow us inside the Green Line and to go to the West Bank because our mandate also asks us to look at violations on, if we can say, the other side. We’ll look at violations done by the Gaza authorities, violations done by the Palestinian authorities. We can only look at that systematically and with some level of accuracy if Israel allows us in and we can visit the areas where the rockets have created damage and where people have suffered. We are also hoping… Israel keeps talking about, well, our mandate is not accurate, our perspective is not correct. If they feel that they have a story to tell, they should let us in and tell us their perspective on the whole situation. So, we are hoping. We keep trying. We’ll keep trying. We hope that they will allow us in at one point.

David Kattenburg:  But Israel has never allowed any commission of inquiry or investigating group or UN body committee or UN special rapporteur. Not since Richard Falk. They don’t let them into the country.

Miloon Kothari:  There are some exceptions. I was actually part of a four rapporteur mission in 2006 when there was a crisis with Lebanon. We visited Lebanon. We looked at the impact of Israel’s cluster bombs. And then we requested Israel to allow us in, and they actually did. Four UN rapporteurs traveled. We went to Galilee. We interviewed families that had been affected by Hezbollah rockets. So, there is a precedent there. And then Navi Pillay. When she was high commissioner, actually, did an official mission to Israel as well, and she was allowed to go to the occupied territories. I mean, if they want to, they can. It’s not unprecedented. We are hoping that they will.

David Kattenburg:  And they clearly ignore all the recommendations. All the recommendations made by the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and of the special rapporteur. They just ignore them.

Miloon Kothari:  Yeah. That was our finding.

David Kattenburg:  And they do so with impunity.

Miloon Kothari:  With impunity. They’ve been overwhelmingly ignored. In fact, one of our conclusions is that, because these recommendations have been consistently ignored, it has been one of the causes of fueling the conflict, and a cause for grave despair amongst the Palestinians. But what is also very interesting about the recommendations, we found that, overwhelmingly, they have been directed towards Israel, which actually also shows the asymmetrical nature of the conflict. It even being called conflict actually raises a lot of questions. That’s what we were trying to show. The other conclusion that we reached, which we think is very important to continue to stress, is that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation. And the persistent discrimination against the Palestinians lies at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem and in Israel.

David Kattenburg:  Down here in your assessment, you wrote, “The Commission notes the strength of prima facie credible evidence available that convincingly indicates that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, has clear policies for ensuring complete control over the occupied Palestinian territory, and is acting to alter the demography through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favored environment for Israeli settlers.”

Miloon Kothari:  That’s correct.

David Kattenburg:  You’ve confirmed or cited Michael Wink’s comments that the occupation is now permanent. It’s an occupation in perpetuity. I mean, this is illegal, is it not?

Miloon Kothari:  Yes, it’s been illegal from the beginning. In fact, one of our mandates is to look at the role of both humanitarian law, human rights law, criminal law. On all three counts, Israel is in systematic violation of all the legislations. In fact, I would go as far as to raise the question of why are they even a member of the United Nations? Because the Israeli government does not respect even its own obligations as a UN member state. They, in fact, consistently, either directly or through the United States, try to undermine UN mechanisms. You might know at this session of the Council when we presented our report, the United States, which has become a member of the council again, circulated a statement signed by 22 countries objecting to our mandate. That actually shows great disrespect for the body that the United States is a member of. Because once you’re a member of a body and a body has adopted a mechanism, you have to respect it. You cannot then say, oh, we were not there last year or, we don’t agree with it now.

I mean, we are quite surprised. In a way I would say we are also glad that our Commission of Inquiry has received so much notice. As you might know, just a few weeks ago, I think in the Senate, there’s a bill that’s been presented in the US which is called the Elimination of the COI Act. The secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has gone out criticizing the thing. He has to report back to Congress next year on what the US has done to eliminate our commission. None of that is succeeding. The US failed quite badly at the Council this year to do anything to us.

David Kattenburg:  I was going to ask about that. Your chairperson, Ms. Pillay, has been specifically the target of attacks. I know in Canada, the Canadian government has apparently expressed its displeasure with Ms. Pillay’s presence as chair.

Miloon Kothari:  We think it’s very unfortunate to attack individual members of the commission who have been appointed through a long and rigorous process. I think it’s just a way to try to discredit the Council, but it’s very… I think it’s very counterproductive. Because, first of all, it brings more attention to our work. Also, it brings more support. At the Council this year, we had overwhelming support of the UN member states. The US got 22 states to sign, but that’s 22 out of 193. That’s not very much. Also, I think that it’s not only governments, but we are very disheartened and actually feel it’s by the social media that is controlled largely by… Whether it’s the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs, a lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us. But the important thing is that our mandate is based on international human rights and humanitarian standards. We are all seeking the truth. We feel that, based on the evidence that we have, overwhelming evidence, I think it’s one of the most well-documented conflicts in the world, historically. Based on that evidence, based on international law, if people feel that we are biased, then we are biased. But for us, that’s the job we’ve been given to do, and that’s what we’re doing.

David Kattenburg:  But international law is not a term of reference in the context of what’s referred to as the peace process. Since the early 1990s, international law has been completely off the table.

Miloon Kothari:  Well, that was a serious flaw in the Oslo process and so on. But I think it’s very much been on the table with all the UN human rights bodies. It’s very much the standard by which the behavior of Israel is assessed all over the world. It’s very, very relevant. In fact —

David Kattenburg:  But it’s not a term of reference for the US government, nor for the Canadian government, nor for the European Union. I mean, the European Union talks with a little bit more belief in international law. Conviction. The EU talks with greater conviction about the role of international law in this “conflict”. But international law is completely off the table in Ottawa and in Washington.

Miloon Kothari:  Yeah, but I would consider that a problem with Canada and the United States. It’s not a problem for the world. I mean, we have all come together in the UN. And Israel itself has ratified this instrument. If it was not a term of reference, why would Israel ratify, why would they report to the UN treaty bodies? Why would they come to the Human Rights Council? So, I think there’s a duplicity there. There are double standards.

I’ll give you one very good example, which we have raised publicly on the floor of the Council and in our press work. The double standard. When it comes to Ukraine, international law becomes very, very important. In fact, it’s used as the standard even by the United States, but most certainly by the European Union. Also by the International Criminal Court. They are pushing ahead and pointing out all the violations done by Russia. But the same violations of occupation and dispossession done by Israel do not receive the same treatment. There is a serious double standard here which needs to be exposed.

David Kattenburg:  I’m wondering, Professor Kothari, if the apartheid idea came up in the course of your deliberations leading to this interim report. Because the term “apartheid” doesn’t appear anywhere. Although you do, in paragraph 45 there’s a quote from the Human Rights Committee concluding observations on the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That “Israeli domestic legal framework maintains a three-tiered system of laws affording different civil status, rights, and legal protections for Jewish-Israeli citizens, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.” This is apartheid.

Miloon Kothari:  Yes. Well, there’s actually been a lot of pressure on us to give our opinion on that. We deliberated on it. We felt that we were not ready because we need to reach our own conclusions after deep study and analysis, which we haven’t had time for. We also feel, and I think we’ve stated that we do not think — It’s a useful paradigm, it’s a useful framework, but we don’t think it’s sufficient to capture the enormity of what has happened in the area. It doesn’t look, for example, at the whole history of settler colonialism. It doesn’t look at the whole issue of occupation. It doesn’t look at many other dimensions which, I think when we are asked to look at root causes, are very important to draw the full picture.

Just saying apartheid and just saying that… For example, just ending apartheid is not going to end occupation. There is a much deeper and a much more comprehensive review that has to be done, and that’s what we’re doing. We will get to the apartheid question at some point in the future because we will be looking at discrimination in general from the river to the sea. I think we will. But at this point, we felt neither we were ready, nor in our initial assessment did we think it was a sufficient paradigm that we should only focus on that.

David Kattenburg:  You talked in your interim report about developing a database or repository of evidence that could be used in subsequent judicial processes. Without getting too specific, can you talk about that? About this repository and what your thoughts are about building a case that could be taken to a judicial instance?

Miloon Kothari:  We have been, actually, explicitly mandated to collect data, information, forensic material. Because we are an accountability body, we have to seek accountability, and so we have to also work with other international bodies. For example, we will be working closely with the International Criminal Court, which as you know has opened a file on Palestine. We will also be looking at other methods of universal jurisdiction. Perhaps a role for the International Court of Justice. We cannot pronounce like these bodies can, but what we have been asked to do is to collect a repository of all the evidence that we gather, and then, at a particular time, hand it over to the judicial bodies that can take action. Our role is much beyond just reporting and so on. We have a very explicit investigative role. Our staff, our secretariat, has very senior experts on investigation, on legal jurisprudence, and so on. So that’s part of our work. We are beginning to collect that information.

David Kattenburg:  Are members or have members of your staff been in touch with people on the International Criminal Court? Are there linkages now that have been established?

Miloon Kothari:  Yes. Actually, we have ourselves visited there last month and met with the deputy prosecutor. The three commissioners have been to The Hague and —

David Kattenburg:  Spoken with [crosstalk].

Miloon Kothari:  …Exploring possibilities of working with them, yes.

David Kattenburg:  Spoken with Ms. Khan.

Miloon Kothari:  That’s right, yes.

David Kattenburg:  Huh.

Miloon Kothari:  And her team.

David Kattenburg:  And her team.

Miloon Kothari:  Yes. That’s correct.

David Kattenburg:  You also speak in your interim report about trying to convince state parties to the various legal instruments that they have a duty under. For example, Article I common to the Geneva Conventions that country state parties must respect and ensure respect for the conventional circumstances, which they’ve not been doing. I mean, there’s no better example than Canada. Canada’s official position is that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and Gaza, and that settlements are therefore illegal, that knows that settlements are therefore a presumptive crime under the Rome Statute. But Canada extends aid and assistance to Israel’s settlement enterprise. Economic, fiscal, and diplomatic. Of course, the United States does as well, and so does the European Union. How does the commission see its role in trying to get state parties to abide by their own obligations?

Miloon Kothari:  First of all, our role is to identify the obligations. We have been, again, given explicitly the mandate to look at third party accountability, which means to look at the high contracting parties of the Geneva Conventions. All of the human rights instruments. Whether they are complying with their obligations, including what are called extraterritorial obligations. We will be doing that in one of our subsequent reports. And we will also be examining, and we have been asked, the whole question of arms. Arms transfer. Which is a very serious issue. That countries… You named some of them. There are others who continue to supply arms to Israel which are obviously being used to suppress and to damage the Palestinian population. That’s something we will be looking at. Third party accountability.

And it’s not only arms. It’s also the business interests. As you know, there’s a business database on companies that operate in the occupied territories. That’s also part of the third party accountability. That states allowing businesses that are registered in their countries to operate and to promote development in these areas. Primarily benefiting the Jewish populations, including the work in the settlements. So, yes, we will be looking at that. That’s absolutely part of our remit.

David Kattenburg:  How do you go about doing that? How does the Commission of Inquiry go about procedurally getting state parties to abide by their obligations?

Miloon Kothari:  I think the first step is to identify what is the nature of that involvement and to identify the extent of the damage being done by that involvement. That’s the first step we will take. And then, obviously, to discuss with the committees to raise the issue at the Human Rights Council and see what the response is. As you know, the BDS movement is there. As you know, some countries have taken steps to label products from the occupied territories. Other countries are considering that. I think our role is to expose the extent of third party culpability in the occupied territories. That’s what we will do. Including the arms issue, which we think is very important.

David Kattenburg:  Your next step, Professor Kothari, is to move forward into your own investigation and legal analysis. Conduct your own investigations and legal analysis. With a view to identifying those bearing individual criminal responsibility. When will this work begin?

Miloon Kothari:  We’ve already started. We’ve started collecting information. As I was mentioning, we will be visiting areas, taking testimony, and slowly proceeding with that work. It’s not something that will suddenly appear in a report. It’s something we have to accumulate over some years and see when it is time to share that information with the relevant authorities. But our work has already begun.

David Kattenburg:  Towards the very end of your report, you say that the Commission will seek to engage with the wider Palestinian diaspora. 50% of the Palestinian population resides outside of the occupied territories. This is interesting. You propose to speak to Palestinians in the United States and Canada and throughout the Middle East and Australia and all those places?

Miloon Kothari:  Yes, yes. Very much. We will be speaking to the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Egypt, in Syria, and also wherever we go. Possibly in the US as well. That’s one way for us to collect the information that we need. Because there are refugees that, of course, historically have been dispossessed from the occupied territories, but there are even recent arrivals who can give us a lot of information on what is transpiring inside the occupied territories. We are getting a lot of information already with all the new technology available. We are working with the UN [inaudible]. We are looking at other forms of getting information if we cannot travel there. There’s quite a lot of geospatial data that is available, which very clearly shows, for example — Which we hope to share in our report to the General Assembly — It shows the evolution. The extent to which the occupation has been solidified in the West Bank and the damage being done by, for example, the blockade on Gaza.

David Kattenburg:  My last question, Miloon Kothari, and thank you so much for your time. There is a yawning gulf, a huge chasm between the ideas that are conveyed in this interim report from the Special Commission of Inquiry and from other reports that have been produced by UN human rights bodies and special rapporteurs. There is a huge gulf between what they say, talking about profound, systematic, comprehensive, chronic violations of international, humanitarian, and human rights law by the state of Israel on the one hand, and on the other hand, statements that we hear from, well, Joe Biden, who was asked just the other day, what do you think about Israeli apartheid? He denies it, and he insists that Israel is a shining democracy, a light onto the world. Of course, Justin Trudeau in Canada says the same thing. The governments of the European Union say the same thing. So on the one hand, you see the international human rights community saying one thing. Their discourse is here. And it’s completely at odds with what state parties are saying. How does the Commission wrap its head around this? Is this demoralizing? Is this disconcerting?

Miloon Kothari:  It’s not demoralizing. It’s disconcerting. It’s an obstacle that we face. But it’s the point I was making earlier. When you have truth and universally accepted legal standards on your side, you have to keep pursuing. We are hoping that the more evidence we collect and we present… As I was mentioning, we have a wider and a different mandate than the ones that have passed before. We are hoping to convince these countries to go beyond ideology, to go beyond just a blind faith in whatever Israel does. We want to continue to expose that you cannot allow a country in the world to get away with this kind of… We are also beginning to tackle this issue of how far you can take anti-Semitism, for example. I think the more work we do, the more we present — I can tell you that we have had meetings at very high levels with different European Union countries, and we see a change. We see a number of countries — I don’t want to name them all here — But we see a number of countries who are now very critical of Israel. But what we would like to see is to go beyond just statements. To actually take action.

We are hoping that the evidence we produce, we are hoping that the issues that we raise and the dialogues that we have with not only these countries but with their parliaments, which we will be doing, and their media, and so on, and academics, we are hoping that will change. I can tell you that we see a perceptible change. It’s not something where you can be just immediately optimistic. You see the changes on the campuses in the United States as well. We are going to try to reach across the aisle. We are hoping to also meet with people who don’t agree with us. We are having regular round tables. As I mentioned to you, we had a round table just two weeks ago with 20 leading academics and journalists and former diplomats from inside the Green Line who came to Geneva to speak to us. We asked them what they thought about our first report. We asked them what they think are the issues we should cover. We will continue to do this —

David Kattenburg:  What did they say?

Miloon Kothari:  They generally agreed with us. They generally agreed with us. They generally encouraged us to continue. As you know, there are very strong voices inside Israel, including leading journalists and academics who are writing and who are speaking out on all these issues. In fact, what is striking to us is that some of the articles and analyses that you read in some of the Israeli media are very forthright and very direct. It’s things that you would never read anywhere in the United States, for example. So, there is a voice emerging, and that’s the voice we are trying to reach out to. That’s the voice we are trying to learn from. Now, the political process is a much bigger obstacle inside Israel, as you know. But we are trying to cross the aisle. We are even willing, and we’ve had some communication with congresspeople and senators in the United States. We are going to try to do as much work as we can, which is well beyond just our reports. Our mandate is much beyond that.

David Kattenburg:  And so your next report will be issued in October?

Miloon Kothari:  Yes. It should be available by the end of September. We will present it in October. It’s the third week of October. We will present it to the General Assembly. We’ll have press conferences. We’re also going to try to have round tables in the US. We’re going to be visiting some of the campuses to speak to students. And we are hoping to do some other public meetings and work. We are going to be in the United States for about two weeks.

David Kattenburg:  Miloon Kothari, thank you so much for joining me today.

Miloon Kothari:  Yeah. Thanks very much for your work.

David Kattenburg:  Miloon Kothari is one of the three members of the International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territory, the so-called Pillay Commission. For more information on the commission’s work, including a link to its first report, go to therealnews.com.

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David Kattenburg

David Kattenburg is a journalist, human rights advocate, and science educator based in Breda, Netherlands.