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UN rights expert calls on the world to recognize the reality of Palestinian statehood

GENEVA (22 September 2011) – The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, called on every United Nations Member State to recognize the reality of Palestinian statehood, and urged Israel to listen to the will of the Palestinian people.

“The upcoming debate on Palestine’s initiative at the United Nations provides a momentous occasion for the international community to respond to a legacy of injustice,” Mr. Falk stressed. “For over 44 years, Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip have suffered under Israel’s oppressive occupation.”

The UN Special Rapporteur drew attention to the fact that “the State of Israel has steadily transferred its population into hundreds of settlements on Palestinian territory, meanwhile subjecting Palestinians to widespread and systematic violations of their basic human rights and disregarding fundamental obligations under international humanitarian law.”

“Palestine’s status as a State is not merely symbolic,” the independent expert said. “It empowers Palestine with rights and duties under international law, such as full jurisdiction over its territory, legal standing to defend itself from other States, and the capacity to join international treaties – including human rights treaties.”

“While many Israelis may be comfortable with the status quo, the ongoing transformation of the region brings with it new realities,” Mr. Falk noted. “I encourage Israel to heed calls throughout the region for governance based on the will of the people. The will of the Palestinian people must be respected too, starting this week at the United Nations and until Palestinians can enjoy the right they share with all other peoples of the world – the right to self-determination.”

“The State of Israel and its zealous backers in the United States should take this chance to live up to the promise of the two-State solution,” The UN Special Rapporteur said acknowledging that Palestine’s initiative has challenges before it. “On so many past occasions, deliberate obstinacy has defeated efforts to resolve the conflict. Nearly 20 years of direct negotiations have actually given Israel time to undermine the two-State solution.”

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Kevin Turner (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9603 / email: kturner@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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