Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with Fact-finding Mission on Israeli Settlements

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Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.

Christine Chanet, Chairperson of the Fact-Finding Mission, said that settlement building was a growing, creeping form of annexation which compromised the right to self-determination of the people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel should put an immediate end to this colonization process, begin a process of withdrawing settlements, and ensure effective remedy. It should also put an end to the arbitrary detention of Palestinians, to violations linked to settlements and to impunity, and it should make sure that justice was handed down for all victims in an indiscriminate way.

Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, said that the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission should be immediately implemented as settlements constituted a flagrant violation of the right to free movement, hampered education, and had a negative impact on the Palestinian economy. Israel must stop its settlement activities, withdraw the settlements and compensate affected citizens, and the transnational companies working in the area should put an end to their commercial activities and stop contributing to the settlement process.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights of Palestine also took the floor and called on the international community to take serious measures to implement the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission, exert pressure on Israel to dismantle all settlements which were in flagrant violation of international law, and take serious measures to end impunity and accountability for acts of vandalism and violence.

Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.

During the interactive dialogue, speakers expressed grave concern over the heavy toll of settlements on the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. Freezing of the settlement activity was not enough; they must be dismantled as they undermined the prospects for achieving a lasting peace in the region and achieving a two-State solution which would include a viable Palestinian State. Speakers condemned persistent settler violence, the arbitrary detention of Palestinians, especially children, and restrictions placed on the Palestinians’ right to freedom of expression and free movement.

Unity Dow, Member of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements, in closing remarks said that the report contained the recommendations for next steps in addressing accountability for the human rights violations. Israel was a duty bearer who must act and other States also had an obligation to uphold international law, prevent its breaches and report on the steps taken.

Ms. Chanet, also in concluding remarks, said that it was not within the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission to say whether recourse to the International Court of Justice could settle the problem and it could not go into the political question of how this element could be used. The mission had simply legally qualified the facts that it had established.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Union, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Iran on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, Qatar, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil on behalf of the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Cuba, Indonesia, Venezuela, Kuwait, Mexico, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Chile, Iraq, Bahrain and Bangladesh.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: United Nations Watch, International Association of Democratic Lawyers in a joint statement, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Norwegian Refugee Council and Al-Haq.

The Council will next hear the reports of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories and hold a general debate on the topic.