UN investigative body calls Israel presence in Palestine ‘unlawful under international law’
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UN investigative body calls Israel presence in Palestine ‘unlawful under international law’

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, Thursday released its second report, stating there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies.”

The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the “illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel” and require Israel to bring “its permanent occupation to an end immediately.” According to the commission, Israel has “created and is maintaining a complex environment of coercion,” including the demolition of homes and the destruction of property, excessive use of force by security forces, mass incarceration, settler violence, restricted movement through checkpoints and roads and limitations on access to livelihoods, basic necessities, services and humanitarian assistance. Such occupation policies violate the right of Palestinians to an adequate standard of living under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 46 of The Hague Regulations and Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The commission reported 398 settler attacks in the West Bank, with 84 attacks resulting in casualties from January to July 2022. In comparison, there were 496 attacks in 2021 and 358 attacks in 2020. The commission called special attention to gender-based violations and stated that the policies implemented by Israel in Palestine have a pervasive discriminatory effect on Palestinian women and violate the protections of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Commission member Chris Sidoti said:

The actions of Israeli Governments reviewed in our report constitute an illegal occupation and annexation regime that must be addressed. The international system and individual States must act and uphold their obligations under international law. That must begin at this session of the General Assembly with a referral to the International Court of Justice.

The commission recommended three actions: (1) the Israeli government should comply completely with international law and end without any delay its 55 years of occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories; (2) the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should prioritize its investigation into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and (3) the UN General Assembly should urgently request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of Israel’s continued refusal to end its occupation of Palestine.

In a press briefing, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Israel is “consistently unfairly targeted” by the UN. According to Price, “no country, the record of no country, should be immune from scrutiny, but no country should also be targeted unfairly. And that’s the principle that we seek to uphold.”

In 2021, the UN Human Rights Council held a special session on the “grave human rights situation” in Palestine and East Jerusalem and adopted a resolution to establish a special commission of inquiry. The commission released its first report in May.