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“In occupied Palestine, there’s no distorting the facts on the ground” – UN Special Rapporteur

GENEVA (6 June 2013) – “Neither Israel nor its proxies can justify the facts on the ground in occupied Palestine,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, “so they distract, distort and defame to allow the violations to go on.”

“It’s a shame that there are lobbying organizations whose sole purpose is to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s unacceptable human rights record,” Mr. Falk said, “but irresponsible and dishonest smear campaigns to discredit those who document these realities do not change the facts on the ground forty-six years after Israel launched the war that began its occupation of Palestine.”

For the Special Rapporteur, the facts on the ground today are plain to see: “Israel continues to annex Palestinian territory; Israel persists in demolishing Palestinians’ homes and populating Palestine with Israeli citizens; Israel routinely detains Palestinians without charges; Israel maintains an policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip; and Israel prosecutes its occupation with impunity, refusing to accept the world’s calls to respect international law.”

“The Israeli population registry confirms that around 650,000 Israelis had settled in the occupied Palestinian territory by the end of 2012,” Mr. Falk recalled. “Just last week Israel took another step toward building the 3,000 additional settlements authorized by Prime Minister Netanyahu in November, even as Israeli leaders pay lip service to peace negotiations.”

“In the first three months of 2013, Israel demolished 204 Palestinian homes,” he noted, “and violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians is an everyday occurrence, with 146 incidents documented through April.”

According to the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council, Israel is actively confiscating Palestinian water and land, having seized an additional 60,000 square meters of land near Nablus just this week.

“My new report* reminds the Human Rights Council that a Security Council report raised these same concerns in 1979, but 34 years later Israel remains committed to ignoring international law and pursuing its own set of facts on the ground.”

The Special Rapporteur highlighted that “since the occupation began 46 years ago, Israel has detained approximately 750,000 Palestinians, equaling nearly 20% of the entire Palestinian population. At the end of May Israel had 4,979 Palestinians, including 236 children, in its prisons. Another fact is that Israel constantly holds around 200 Palestinians in so-called administrative detention, which is a euphemism Israel uses for detention without charges.”

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Falk recalled that, in mid-June, Palestinians in Gaza will enter the seventh year of living under Israel’s oppressive and illegal blockade.

“My report discusses my visit to Gaza last December, just after Israel’s last major military operation,” he said. “In short, Israel’s blockade is suffocating Palestinians in Gaza, with an incredible 70% of the population dependent on international aid for survival and 90% of the water unfit for human consumption.”

“These violations deprive Palestinians of hope and make a mockery of revived peace negotiations,” the independent expert said. “While Israel and its proxies may wish to ignore the world’s efforts to induce compliance with international law, it’s contrary to the aims and purposes of the United Nations to distract attention from or distort the facts on the ground.”

The Special Rapporteur is scheduled to present his report to the twenty-third session of the Human Rights Council on Monday, 10 June. He will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning, 11 June, in Palais des Nations, Room 3.

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, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

(*) Check the full report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23%20-21_en.pdf

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 (+41 79 509 0557 / kturner@ohchr.org) or Kiyohiko Hasegawa (+41 22 928 9211 / khasegawa@ohchr.org to sropt@ohchr.org

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

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