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UN rights experts conclude Israel settlements violate human rights

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) [official website] on Thursday adopted the first report [press release, PDF] by the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [official website] which concluded that a multitude of violations have occurred. Titled "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan," UN resolution 19/17 [text, PDF] states that the existence of these settlements, established in 1967, has led to daily, interrelated breaches of human rights characterized by "the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people." In alleging various violations of international humanitarian law, the report relies on the "status and treatment of protected persons" provision under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention [text] in arguing that the "settlements are a major obstacle to the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and to the creation of an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State." Specifically, the report claims that the Palestinian settlements have been established for the benefit of only Israeli Jews, and those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory endure an impeding segregation enforced by military personnel and law enforcement. The impact of the alleged violations supposedly allows the settlements to expand while simultaneously driving Palestinians from their land. The HRC has therefore called on the Israeli government to "ensure full accountability for all violations, put an end to the policy of impunity, and to ensure justice for all victims." The report will be formally presented to the HRC on March 18.

The most recent conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians have raised concern of possible human rights violations committed by Israel. Last month UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk [official website] called on Israel [JURIST report] to fully implement and continue to support the recent conflict-ending ceasefire agreement with Palestinians in Gaza. In November UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] pressured Israel [JURIST report] to avoid targeting civilian structures in Gaza, expressing acute concern over the surge in the number of Palestinian civilian deaths that month. In August Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on Israel to investigate [JURIST report] its treatment of Palestinian detainees, alleging that two had been mistreated. In June the UN also urged Israel to end its blockade [JURIST report] of the Gaza Strip, alleging that it was violating international law.

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