Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the United Nations to take action over Israel’s expanding illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), part of what the global rights group described as an inherently “discriminatory” system.
As the UN Human Rights Council met in Geneva, HRW released a statement on Tuesday, noting that “in the last six months, settlement expansion has continued unabated, in violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and to the detriment of Palestinian residents”.
Palestinians, the statement added, “live under a discriminatory, two-tiered system”.
HRW noted that just
in the last year, Israeli authorities have passed a law legalising the confiscation of private Palestinian land and declared their intent to maintain settlements forever.
Reaffirming that “settlements are unlawful under IHL, and the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population to the occupied territory is a war crime”, HRW noted that “settlements are established on land unlawfully seized and rendered off limits to Palestinians”.
“They stunt Palestinian economic development and trigger crippling restrictions on the right to freedom of movement, access to health and education and a host of other rights.”
HRW also addressed the issue of accountability, observing that “businesses operating in settlements or facilitating settlement activity cannot do so without contributing to serious abuses.”
In January, HRW related, “the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report detailing his methodology in implementing this Council’s decision to establish a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements”.
“The High Commissioner’s office committed to publishing the names of the 206 businesses identified once it completed corresponding with them.”
HRW concluded by encouraging “the High Commissioner to publish the names of those companies with which he has completed engagement before the end of his tenure, and urge the Council to ensure that his Office has the resources to ensure that the database is regularly updated.”