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Israel: UN rights expert raises alarm on growing deterioration of human rights in occupied East Jerusalem

GENEVA (21 March 2011) – United Nation Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, urged today the UN Human Rights Council to focus their attention on “the intensifying deterioration of human rights in occupied East Jerusalem.”

“The continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with forcible eviction of long residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation that can only be described, in its cumulative impact, as a form of ethnic cleansing,” warned Mr. Falk during the presentation of his latest report* on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Israel has taken over the years measures to alter the demographic composition of the occupied part of Jerusalem in as irreversible manner as possible,” the expert said. “Israeli settlers have continued to take over Palestinian homes and expel Palestinians from their homes of decades and generations, while the Israeli authorities support their illegal actions.”

The Special Rapporteur warned that the Government’s support for settlers’ actions “further illustrates the institutional and systematic discrimination against the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem by Israel, as well as the ongoing Israeli efforts to create what are euphemistically called ‘facts on the ground’ for the annexation of East Jerusalem.”

Mr. Falk also criticized the Israeli failure to implement the recommendations of the Goldstone Report or to take account of the fact-finding report commissioned by the Human Rights Council on the Gaza flotilla incident of 31 May 2010. “Such failures undermine respect for international law, for peaceful methods of conflict resolution more generally, and erode the credibility of this Council in relation to the Israel/Palestine conflict,” he stressed.

Noting that he will undertake a new mission in April 2011 to gather information for a report to the UN General Assembly, Mr. Falk recalled that since December 2008, when he was denied entry into Israel and detained by the authorities, he has had to rely exclusively on reports by other sources concerning the situation in the West Bank.

The independent expert highlighted five specific recommendations, among others, to the Human Rights Council:

1. Intensify efforts to induce Israel to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, including allowing access to the occupied Palestinian territories;

2. Undertake efforts to have the International Court of Justice assess allegations that the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem possess elements of “colonialism”, “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” inconsistent with international humanitarian law in circumstances of belligerent occupation and unlawful abridgements of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people;

3. Intensify efforts to attach legal consequences to the failure by Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip in all of its dimensions;

4. Organize an inquiry, possibly jointly with the International Committee of the Red Cross or the Government of Switzerland, into the legal, moral and political consequences of prolonged occupation, including prolonged refugee status, with an eye toward convening Governments to negotiating further protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949;

5. Take steps to implement the recommendations of the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in light of the failure of Israel to address allegations in a manner that accords with international standards as well as the conclusions of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission into the incident of the humanitarian flotilla.

(*) Check the full report by the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/16session/A-HRC-16-72.pdf

ENDS

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