Israeli soldiers stand guard as Palestinian demonstrators gather during a protest against illegal Israeli settlements in Beita town near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
The Palestinian Authority lauded on Tuesday a statement made by United Nations experts on Israel’s projected move to annex larger swaths of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki acclaimed in a statement the strong condemnation by 47 experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council of Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied territory.
Al-Maliki voiced gratitude to the UN experts for their overt warnings against the negative impact of the US support to Israeli unilateral steps, including its plans to annex more lands.
The Israeli government plans to annex large parts of the West Bank and impose Israeli sovereignty on the illegal settlements built in the West Bank.
On Tuesday, 47 of the independent Special Procedures mandates appointed by the Human Rights Council condemned Israel’s annexation plan, saying the agreement by the new coalition Government of Israel to annex significant parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank after 1 July would violate a cornerstone principle of international law and must be meaningfully opposed by the international community.
“The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible,” said the 47 UN experts in a statement. “The international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering.”
Israel said it plans to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea territory and extend sovereignty over more than 235 illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This would amount to approximately 30 percent of the West Bank. The annexation of this territory was endorsed by the American so called Peace to Prosperity Plan, released in late January 2020.
“The United Nations has stated on many occasions that the 53-year-old Israeli occupation is the source of profound human rights violations against the Palestinian people,” said the experts.
“These violations include land confiscation, settler violence, discriminatory planning laws, the confiscation of natural resources, home demolitions, forcible population transfer, excessive use of force and torture, labour exploitation, extensive infringements of privacy rights, restrictions on the media and freedom of expression, the targeting of women activists and journalists, the detention of children, poisoning by exposure to toxic wastes, forced evictions and displacement, economic deprivation and extreme poverty, arbitrary detention, lack of freedom of movement, food insecurity, discriminatory law enforcement and the imposition of a two-tier system of disparate political, legal, social, cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality.”
“These human rights violations would only intensify after annexation. What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world”, the statement read.
“Israel has recently promised that it will maintain permanent security control between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Thus, the morning after annexation would be the crystallization of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights. This is a vision of a 21st century apartheid”, it added.
Twice before, Israel has annexed occupied land – East Jerusalem in 1980 and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. On both occasions, the UN Security Council immediately condemned the annexations as unlawful but took no meaningful countermeasures to oppose Israel’s actions.
Similarly, the Security Council has repeatedly criticized the Israeli settlements as a flagrant violation under international law. Yet, Israel’s defiance of these resolutions and its ongoing entrenchment of the settlements has gone unanswered by the international community.