UN expert calls for “brave” new approach to end Israeli occupation of Palestine


A new “imaginative and brave” playbook is needed to achieve the globally agreed goal to end the 54-year-old Israeli occupation and secure Palestine’s self-determination, a UN human rights expert told the General Assembly today.

“Yesterday’s playbook … has only led to repeated diplomatic cul-de-sacs, while enabling the patterns of human rights abuses and an endless occupation to continue largely unimpeded,” said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. “This has been a political failure of the first order.”

Lynk’s annual report to the General Assembly focused on the effectiveness of four of the influential international actors involved in the Middle East process and the supervision of the Israeli occupation: the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and the Quartet (UN, EU, USA and Russia).

“By not imposing a meaningful cost on Israel for its endless occupation, the policies of these four actors – inadvertently or not – have been contributing to the consolidation of Israeli control over the occupied Palestinian territory,” Lynk said.

“The occupation is more embedded than ever. The living conditions of the Palestinians, let alone their political future, have become even more precarious. Israel’s defiance has gone almost completely unchecked. The peace process is moribund, if not comatose, and there is no serious talk about reviving it. We are witnessing not a Palestinian state-in-the-making, but the strengthening of a one state reality of unequal rights.

“Recent trends on the ground are getting worse, not better,” Lynk warned. “The Israeli settlement population is approaching 700,000 settlers. The network of roads and utilities connecting the settlements to Israel and each other is expanding. Settler attacks against Palestinians are sustaining a coercive environment. Gaza remains under a tight blockade, which deepens its impoverishment and distress. And the amount of violence required by Israel to maintain the occupation contains to rise.”

Ending the longest occupation in the modern word, enabling Palestinian self-determination and providing peace, security and a prosperous and shared future for both Israelis and Palestinians requires the international community to adopt the following five principles to achieving the international community’s goals of peace, security and justice:

  • Because of the vast asymmetry in power between Israel and the Palestinians, active international intervention is indispensable;
  • The framework for fully ending the occupation must employ a rights-based approach, anchored in international law and human rights;
  • The end goal must be the realization of Palestinian self-determination;
  • Israel has been a bad-faith occupier; and
  • The occupation must end with all deliberate speed.

Lynk called on the international community, and its leading actors, to enforce its own rules and resolutions respecting the Israeli occupation. “We cannot continue to tolerate the intolerable: the imposition of a colonial reality in Palestine in the 21st century,” the UN expert said.

“We need a rights-based approach, but we also need imaginative and brave diplomacy that is willing to ask the honest questions as to how this five-decade-old occupation has turned into a de facto annexation, and worse.”

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