Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and therefore the occupied West Bank amount to a crime, a UN human rights investigator said on Friday, calling on countries to inflict a price on Israel for its “illegal occupation”.
Michael Lynk, UN’s special rapporteur on human rights within the occupied Palestinian territory, was addressing a session of the UN Human Rights Council, boycotted by Israel which doesn’t recognize his mandate or cooperate with him.
“In my report, I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a crime,” Lynk said.
He said the settlements violate an absolute ban on an occupying power transferring a part of its civilian population into occupied territory, thereby meeting the definition of a crime under the Rome Statute founding the International Court (ICC).
“I undergo you that this finding compels the international community… to form it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of the law of nations and international opinion, can and can not be cost-free,” Lynk told the Geneva rights forum.
Many countries consider the settlements a breach of the law of nations. Israel disputes this and cites biblical and historical connections to the land, also as security needs.
Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva, during a statement, rejected Lynk’s report as “the latest one-sided and biased report against Israel” and accused him of turning a blind eye to violations committed by the Palestinian Authority and Gaza rulers Hamas.
Lynk said Israel’s demolition of Bedouin tent dwellings during a village within the West Bank on Wednesday left residents without food or water within the heat of the Jordan Valley, calling it “both unlawful and heartless”.
“Progressive seizure of Palestinian lands alongside the protection of the settlements may be a further consolidation of Israel’s de facto annexation of the West Bank,” he said.
There are nearly 300 settlements in East Jerusalem and therefore the West Bank, with quite 680,000 Israeli settlers, Lynk said.
Us, Israel’s closest ally which has observer status at the council, didn’t speak at the council which it accuses of getting an anti-Israel bias.
Lotte Knudsen, the ECU Union’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said the settlements were illegal under the law of nations.
“Such actions as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions, and confiscation of homes will only escalate an already tense environment.”
Palestinians want to determine an independent state within the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, but the
issue of Jewish settlements ashore captured by Israel during a 1967 war has long been an obstacle within the social process. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.