Israeli settlement expansion must be treated as suspected war crime, UN experts say


NEW YORK: UN human rights experts on Wednesday condemned the Israeli government’s recent approval of plans to build several thousand new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, reiterating that settlements are ” an alleged war crime under the Rome Statute of the criminal court and should be treated as such by the international community.

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are a “flagrant violation of international law (and illegality (is) one of the most widely accepted issues in modern international law,” the experts said).

In the first such move since Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came to power in June, the Israeli government last week put forward plans to build more than 3,000 new settlement units, most of them deep in the West Bank. busy.

“The very raison d’être of Israeli settlements in occupied territory – the creation of demographic facts on the ground to solidify a permanent presence, a consolidation of foreign political control and an illegal claim of sovereignty – flouts the basic tenets of humanitarianism and human rights, ”the experts said.

Among the experts were Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory since 1967, and Balakrishnan Rajagopal of the United States and Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing.

New expansion plans are also being put forward for around 15,000 housing units spread across various settlements in East Jerusalem.

Experts said there are now around 700,000 Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, adding that these settlements are the “engine of the occupation”.

“(The settlements) are responsible for a wide range of human rights violations against Palestinians, including land confiscation, alienation of resources, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, escalating settler violence and racial and ethnic discrimination, ”the experts said.

“More seriously, the purpose of settler settlement – to sever the relationship between an indigenous people and their land – is the denial of the right to self-determination, which is at the very heart of modern human rights law.

While welcoming international criticism of Israel’s expansion plans, including from the US and the EU, experts cautioned against Israel’s continued impunity.

“Criticism without consequences means little in these circumstances,” they said. “Israel has paid a minimal price over the past five decades to build its 300 settlements and defy international law. “

Experts urged the international community to support the ongoing investigation into Israeli settlements by the International Criminal Court.

“An occupying power that initiates and expands civilian colonies in defiance of international law and the Rome Statute cannot take peace seriously,” the experts said.

Likewise, an international community which does not impose measures of responsibility on a provocative occupying power contrary to international law cannot take its own laws seriously.

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