UN rights expert: Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine are ‘war crime’
A U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday Israeli’s illegal settlements in East Jerusalem al-Quds and the West Bank amount to a “war crime”, calling on countries to inflict a cost on the regime for its "illegal occupation".
Michael Lynk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, was addressing a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"In my report, I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime," Lynk said.
He said the settlements violate an absolute ban on an occupying power transferring part of its civilian population into an occupied territory, thereby meeting the definition of a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"I submit to you that this finding compels the international community ... to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free," Lynk told the Geneva rights forum.
Nearly all countries consider the settlements a breach of international law.
Lynk said Israel's demolition of Bedouin tent dwellings in a village in the West Bank on Wednesday left residents without food or water in the heat of the Jordan Valley, calling it "both unlawful and heartless".
"Progressive seizure of Palestinian lands together with the protection of the settlements is a further consolidation of Israel's de facto annexation of the West Bank," he said.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Lotte Knudsen, the European Union's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said the settlements were illegal under international law.
"Such actions as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions, and confiscation of homes will only escalate an already tense environment."