The UN expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday called for an international ban on all products made in Israeli settlements, as an important step towards ending Israel’s 52-year-old “illegal occupation” of the West Bank.
Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told the General Assembly’s human rights committee Wednesday that the international community should issue “a clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a withheld database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”
Lynk stressed that the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its occupation and remove barriers to self-determination for the Palestinians.
He also called the Israeli occupation in Palestine “the longest occupation” in the world, Anadolu reports.
“Israel has occupied the Palestinian territory for more than 52 years, the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world.”
He said the international community is reluctant to take action against Israel for its permanent occupation and serious violations of international law.
“The status quo of Israel’s ‘occu-annexation’ is endlessly sustainable without decisive international intervention because of the grossly asymmetrical balance of power on the ground,” Lynk said.
As for Gaza, the rights expert said the ongoing blockade — land, sea and air — has severely restricted basic rights of the residents, including healthcare, education and livelihood.
“The Gaza blockade is a denial of basic human rights and amounts to collective punishment,” he said.
Turning to ongoing protests by Gazans and the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces, Lynk said Israeli has not held its soldiers accountable for their actions despite calls by the international community and civil society organizations in this regard.
The “Great March of Return” and related protests have resulted in the deaths of 207 Palestinians and 33,828 have been injured, he noted.
The expert also raised concerns on the Israeli government’s annexation activities in the West Bank and settlers’ escalating violations there.
“Incidents of settler violence were recorded in a number of West Bank towns including in Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah,” he added.
Lynk said the Israeli security forces have intensified their raids into various parts of the West Bank and arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Lynk also said more than 100 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in east Jerusalem since late April.
He said the Israeli occupation is a bitter illustration of the absence of international accountability for Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and humanitarian law.