Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Reuters reported, Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank amount to a war crime, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday, calling on countries to inflict a cost on Israel 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, boycotted by Israel which does not recognise his mandate or cooperate with him.
“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 founding 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.
Many countries consider the settlements a breach of international law. Israel disputes this and cites Biblical and historical connections to the land, as well as security needs.
Lotte Knudsen, the European Union’s ambassador to the United Nations 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.”