UN criticizes Israeli occupation of Palestine

"International Court of Justice should assess legal status of prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine," UN rights expert says.

GENEVA - The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine, Richard Falk, Friday called for an assessment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal status of the prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine, and allegations that it has legally unacceptable characteristics of 'colonialism', 'apartheid' and 'ethnic cleansing.'

"Special steps must be taken to ensure that the human rights of the Palestinian people are protected and the rule of law established in an occupation which has lasted now for more than 45 years," Falk said in a statement after serving six years as the independent expert charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

In his final report, the Special Rapporteur also called on the UN Human Rights Council to examine the legal implications of the occupation of Palestine, and urges the international community to act decisively to uphold Palestinian human rights.

- No signs of change on Israeli occupation

"Ongoing settlement expansion remains a serious obstacle and undermines prospects for Palestinian self-determination," he said, noting that the number of settlements built in the West Bank doubled in 2013, according to Israeli official data.  "So far, there have been no signs of change in this trend for 2014 and Israel has already defiantly approved the construction of hundreds of new homes in the first three months of the year despite the ongoing peace negotiations."

- The Wall

The UN expert also reiterated concerns about the Wall, recalling that, in 2004, the International Court of Justice declared illegal its construction in occupied Palestine. An estimated 85% of the planned route of the Wall lies within the West Bank; more than 60% of a planned 708 km has been completed and construction continues. "Such a course of action undermines respect for international law and should be challenged," Falk underscored. 

- "More than 11,000 Palestinians have lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1996"

Falk called for the deteriorating situation in East Jerusalem to be given urgent attention. He noted that "more than 11,000 Palestinians have lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1996, under rules imposed by Israel." 

The potential liability of companies who profit from settlements is also analyzed in the report. "The international community is starting to react responsibly in relation to issues of corporate social responsibility," Falk said.  "Some companies and countries are increasingly moving away from engagement with settlements on the basis of their illegality under international law; these examples are to be commended and should be followed by others."

- Humanitarian stuation in Gaza

Falk also expressed his views on a worsening humanitarian situation in occupied Gaza, noting that "the effects of the blockade, coupled with regional developments, are having a severe impact on the civilian population of Gaza."

"We mustn’t forget that thousands of Palestinian political detainees, including children, remain in Israeli prisons.  Among them are more than a hundred administrative detainees. Many of them are subjected to ill-treatment and torture from the time of their arrest to their interrogation in detention," Falk said.

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