Israel must be held to account for expanding occupation: UN expert

The international community must hold Israel to account for its 54-year occupation of Palestine, a UN human rights expert said on Thursday, five years after the UN Security Council called for all settlement activities in Palestinian territories to end.

“On the fifth anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2334 by the United Nations Security Council, the international community has to take its own words and its own laws seriously,” said Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

“Without decisive international intervention to impose accountability upon an unaccountable occupation, there is no hope that the Palestinian right to self-determination and an end to the conflict will be realized anytime in the foreseeable future,” Lynk said.

Resolution 2334, adopted by the Security Council on Dec. 23, 2016, designates Israeli settlements as “a flagrant violation under international law.”

The resolution says that all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, must “immediately and completely cease.”

Israeli settlers

“One statistic above all illustrates the remarkable unwillingness of the international community to enforce its own directions respecting the Israeli occupation,” the UN expert said.

In 2016, when Resolution 2334 was adopted, there were an estimated 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and 218,000 in East Jerusalem, he said.

Five years later, there are 475,000 settlers in the West Bank and 230,000 in East Jerusalem.”

The resolution says that the expansion of settlements threatens the viability of a two-state solution, and that international law must govern the occupation and relations between Israel and Palestinians.

It also called on states to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories Israel has occupied since 1967.

“If this resolution had been actually enforced by the international community and obeyed by Israel, we would most likely be on the verge of a just and lasting peace,” said Lynk.

“Instead, Israel is in defiance of the resolution, its occupation is more entrenched than ever, the violence it employs against the Palestinians to sustain the occupation is rising, and the international community has no strategy to end the world’s longest military occupation.”

The Special Rapporteur noted that in 20 reports delivered to the Security Council since the resolution was adopted, the secretary-general or his representative “have stated on each occasion that Israel has not complied with any of the directions of the Security Council.”

“Only an approach based on accountability, equality, and full rights for all can create the possibility of a prosperous and shared future for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” said Lynk.

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