“Israel’s role as occupier in the Palestinian Territory – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza – has crossed a red line into illegality,” said Canadian law professor Michael Lynk, who is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Presenting his latest report to the UN General Assembly in New York, the expert described Israel’s actions in the region as “the longest-lasting military occupation in the modern world.” He then suggested the UN proceed with relevant international legal processes to force Israel change its policy, which so far “shows no signs of ending.”
In order to do so, the UN should seek to proclaim the occupation of Palestine illegal. As a first step, he suggests that the UN request the International Court of Justice to offer its assessment of the situation.
As things stand, Israel is regarded “as the lawful occupant of the Palestinian territories,” he pointed out, saying that this position does not correspond with reality.
Israel’s actions are “in defiance of 40 plus resolutions of the [UN] Security Council, 100 plus resolutions of the General Assembly, and rulings of the International Court of Justice,” Lynk underlined. He added that the current “focus” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue “is not anti-Israel, it’s an anti-occupation.”
Once Israel’s actions are officially pronounced illegal, the international community could put pressure on Tel Aviv through suspending certain forms of cooperation.
“Only when the Israelis need visas to travel abroad and don’t receive them, only when the EU trade with Israel is limited and only when cooperation in academic, military and economic fields with Israel comes to an end – only then will we see a real change,” Lynk explained at a news conference Thursday.
Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, strongly condemned the special rapporteur’s claims, saying the UN body Lynk represents “has lost its legitimacy.”
“[UNHRC] focuses obsessively on attacking Israel instead of working on resolving the real human rights problems plaguing the world,” Danon said in a statement as quoted by the Israeli media. “The Council has lost all touch with reality,” he added.
However, according to the UN special rapporteur, calls to end the occupation of Palestine also emanate from within Israel. The UN official in particular cited the publisher of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Amos Schocken, who said international pressure “is precisely the force” that can help change things in the crisis.
The UN has recently included some of the biggest Israeli and international firms operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights on a blacklist of those violating “international law and UN resolutions.”
Some 130 Israeli companies as well as dozens of international firms and corporations have already received warnings from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, on impending inclusion on the list, according to the Israeli outlet, Ynet News.
Earlier in October, Israel approved construction of over 30 new settlements in the UNESCO-protected city of Hebron, which is the largest Palestinian community in the West Bank.