UN expert calls for ban of products from illegal Israeli settlements

Last week, the U.N. independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, called for an international ban on all Israeli settlements products, as a step towards ending Israel’s 52-year-old illegal occupation.

Michael Lynk told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that the international community should also issue “a clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”

Lynk said 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.

In addtion he pointed to the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which he called “a human-made catastrophe” and “an injustice that should be near the top of the world’s agenda to end.” He said the economic situation there “continues to move from dire to acute to unimaginable,” with over half of Gaza’s population “food insecure,” the unemployment rate over 50%, and 70% of Gazans younger than 30 without work.

Lynk noted more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 33,000 wounded by Israeli fire at the Gaza fence since March 2018.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report to the Human Rights Council in March said that Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza by deliberately attacking Palestinian civilians.

Lynk also referred to four reports commissioned by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that found serious rights violations by Israel, including during the 2008-2009 and 2014 Gaza conflicts, protests at the Gaza-Israel border, and in Israeli settlement building.

“No occupation in the modern world,” Lynk said, “has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

He called for “bold measures and the determination to enforce accountability,” starting with an international agreement on “a complete ban on the export of all products made in the illegal Israeli settlements in the world market.”

“Accountability is the key to unlocking the titanium cage that is the endless occupation,” he said. “Now is the time for the international community to turn the key.”

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