Israel’s status at the United Nations depends on its ending the “occupation” and on the ability of “Palestine” to act as a state, warned special investigator and Canadian legal expert Michael Lynk during an official briefing to the international body.
“I raise the question, does the occupying [power] need to realize that its status in the international community and at the UN depends on allowing the Palestinians to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence and to bring the occupation to an end?” Lynk said.
He spoke on Friday in New York before the General Assembly’s Third Committee, as the tail end of a question and answer session with regard to his first report since his appointment earlier this year as UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on Israeli activity against Palestinians.
Delegates asked him what could be done to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations against Palestinians.
He suggested that one option could be moving one step beyond the 2004 advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which stated that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [including east Jerusalem] have been established in breach of international law.”
Perhaps, he speculated, a second ICJ opinion is needed on Israeli actions in those territories. “As a lawyer and a law professor, I can say that the occupation and its length and its various features violates many aspects of international human rights law,” Lynk said.
“Does there need to be a resolution at the UN or an advisory opinion sought at the ICJ as to whether or not, not the occupation itself, but the occupying power’s continued running of the occupation [has] now become illegal?” Lynk asked.
In his 26-page report and in his comments to the Third Committee he said that Israel must immediately end the “occupation.”
“I want to emphasize, if emphases is need, the occupation is not lessening, it is becoming more entrenched, more embedded and more anchored.
“We are not on a path to Palestinian self-determination and independence. This should be a grave concern to the international community,” Lynk said.
He blamed the “occupation” on West Bank settlements.
“It is impossible to separate the occupation from Israel’s settlement project, if there were no settlements there would be no need for the occupation,” Lynk said.
Israel, which holds that its presence in the West Bank is based both on security needs and biblical history, has long argued that military rule of the territory does not fit the legal definition of occupation.
It has furthered argued that the final borders of a two-state solution must be determined through negotiation and not by UN dictates with regard to a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
At the meeting, Israel spoke out against the UNHRC’s policy of assigning a permanent human rights investigator solely to Israel. Israel’s delegate further stated that Lynk’s mandate was biased against the Jewish state, in that he was instructed to solely look into Israeli human rights abuses without addressing the Palestinian ones.
“The UNHRC has been taken over by some of the worst human rights violators in the world. The council has long abandoned it founding principles of universality, impartiality and non-selectivity,” Israel said.
“Every day around the world human rights are being violated in the most shocking ways and on an unimaginable scale. People are being indiscriminately targeted by barrel bombs, hanged for so called moral crimes and sold as sex slaves in city centers.
“The UNHRC deliberately ignores all those violations and continues its biased fixation with the only democracy in the Middle East,” Israel continued.
“The rapporteurs mandate fully ignores Palestinians institutionalized incitement to violence and terrorism [against Israel.]
“Allowing the Palestinians to continue to encourage terror attacks will not contribute to building a trust worthy partner in any future peace process,” Israel added.
The rapporteur’s problematic mandate has not changed since 1993, Israel said. It ignores changes that have occurred on the ground, including Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip and wide ranging human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority against their own people, Israel said.
“Israel considers the discriminatory and distorted mandate to be illegitimate and will continue to view it as such until the council rights this wrong,” Israel added.
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