Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) held a webinar to discuss the latest report by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Michael Lynk, who ended his mandate at the end of April.
Chairperson Nasim Ahmed expressed his and Palestinians’ deep sorrow over the brutal killing of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akelah by the Israeli military during a raid on Jenin refugee camp, in the occupied West Bank.
Professor Lynk opened his speech by thanking PRC for inviting him to speak about his latest report issued in March 2022 to the Human Rights Council. In the report, he addressed whether or not Apartheid exits in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
“When I was first appointed in 2016 as Special Rapporteur I had no intention of wanting to address the question of Apartheid”, said Lynk. “I must confess I thought It would be difficult for me to speak with political and diplomatic decision makers on this issue”.
“After four years in this position, I began to realize that whatever the quality of reports I was issuing, whatever the nature of the topics that I was focusing upon, whatever many speeches editorials and writings I would do on this, there didn’t seem to be much of an apartheid for the international community to fulfill its responsibilities and pressure Israel to bring this to an end”, he said.
“It struck me that the issue of the now 55-year-old occupation, that this is becoming a legal oxymoron to have a forever occupation is contrary to all of the founding principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law which governs occupations”, added Lynk.
“Occupations are supposed to be temporary and short-term; The occupying power is supposed to administer occupation in the best interest of the people under occupation, in this case the Palestinians; The occupying power has no right whatsoever to occupy the territory of the occupied people”, stated Professor Lynk. “Yet, ,one of these principles were being obeyed by Israel”.
Lynk slammed the apathy maintained by the international community, particularly the West, Europe and North America. “Criticism without consequences is meaningless in situations like these”.
The Special Rapporteur condemned Israeli annexation as illegal, saying “the occupation of a territory by force or by war is impermissible”. He referred to Resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council, the highest-decision making body, which says that Israeli settlements “are a flagrant violation under international law”.
“I came to the conclusion that this occupation is indistinguishable from annexation, indistinguishable from apartheid”, said Lynk.