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Palestinian territories: “Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity” – UN human rights expert

GENEVA (29 November 2010)– The Special Rapporteur Richard Falk urged the United Nations and the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed upon the Palestinian people for over 43 years of Israeli occupation.

“The Palestinian experience suggests the need for a new protocol of international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement issued Monday to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Mr. Falk stressed the need to impose “some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity.”

For the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, “the UN and the international community as a whole will be judged in the future by whether effective action is now taken to end the humanitarian catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian people.”

“In this respect,” Mr. Falk warned, “the UN, the governments and the peoples of the world will be all be judged complicit to the extent that this persistent violation of fundamental human rights is endured without taking the necessary steps in a spirit of urgency and commitment to bring this abusive occupation to an end and achieve Palestinian self-determination in accordance with international law and the dictates of global justice.”

Regarding current efforts to reactivate a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, the UN Special Rapporteur reminded that “negotiation between the parties to the conflict needs to be guided by the implementation of several principles of international law if a settlement of the conflict is to achieve Palestinian self-determination.”

These principles, as set forth in General Assembly Resolution 48/158, 20 December 1993, include the following:

· withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;
· resolving the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 181 and subsequent resolutions;
· dismantling settlements established during the occupation;
· fixing of secure and internationally recognized borders;
· guaranteeing free access to sacred sites and religious buildings throughout historic Palestine.

“A peace process that does not heed these guidelines, with appropriate degrees of flexible implementation,” Mr. Falk warned, “cannot realize either self-determination for the Palestinian people or peace with security and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

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.

(*): Check the Special Rapporteur’s Statement on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10566&LangID=E

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 Nikki Siahpoush (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9430 / email: nsiahpoush@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org.