Richard Falk [Al Jazeera profile], the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, on Friday called on [press release] the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] to assess the legal status of Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestine. Falk accuses Israel of engaging in colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing and argues that the ongoing settlement undermines the peace process. Falk, who is scheduled to step down as special rapporteur at the end of the month, has made a number of controversial statements [Times of Israel report] during his tenure, including accusing Israel of war crimes and calling for a boycott of companies assisting Israel in building settlements.
Israel has faced significant criticism from the international community in recent months regarding potential human rights violations. Last month Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Israel to investigate the use of excessive force by its soldiers in the West Bank. In January UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley said that Israel's use of live ammunition [JURIST report] against civilians may constitute excessive use of force. In December, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] the Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes after a November aerial bombing raid killed 12 civilians in Gaza. In response, Falk called on [JURIST report] Israel to fully implement and continue to support the ceasefire agreement with Palestinians.