Israel could face case in International Criminal Court, warns UN report
Israel must withdraw all settlers from the West Bank or potentially face a case at the International Criminal Court for serious violations of international law, says a report by a United Nations agency that was immediately dismissed in Jerusalem as “counterproductive and unfortunate”.
All settlement activity in occupied territory must cease “without preconditions” and Israel “must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers”, said the UN Human Rights Council. Israel, it said, was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of civilian populations to occupied territory.
The settlements were “leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”, it said.
The UNHRC report broadly restated international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements. But its conclusions are likely to bolster the Palestinians following their admission last November to the UN as a non-member state, which potentially gives them recourse to the ICC.
“The Rome statute establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory,” said the UNHRC report .
It added: “Ratification of the statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims.”
In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said: “Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us – will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that.”
Israel refused to co-operate with UNHRC investigators, denying them access to the West Bank. – (Guardian service)
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