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UN expert says Israel’s planned Jordan Valley annexation is illegal, puts at risk two-state solution

GENEVA (12 September 2019) – A UN human rights expert has denounced comments by Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu that he would order the annexation of the Jordan Valley if re-elected prime minister, saying such action would represent a flagrant challenge to the modern rules-based international order.

“To assert the right to annex in the 21st century is to attempt to re-enter a world that no longer exists,” said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

“Annexation is strictly prohibited under international law under any circumstances, let alone for political or electoral considerations. 

“Now, with this announcement, the patina of a temporary occupation has surely come to an end. Israel, the occupying power, has demonstrated no willingness to either fulfill its international obligations or to accept the many United Nations resolutions commanding it to stop its illegal settlement enterprise and to end its 52-year old occupation.” 

Annexation was outlawed by the international community in 1945, with the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Jordan Valley makes up 30 percent of the occupied West Bank, and is home more than 65,000 Palestinians who live there alongside 11,000 Israeli settlers. 

“By annexing these areas, Israel will further confine Palestinians to live in small, fragmented and disconnected cantons while others will continue to live under Israeli military rule,” Lynk said. “The annexation, if realized, will effectively end the illusion of a meaningful two-state solution, and will instead further entrench a one state reality of separate and vastly unequal legal systems, political rights and social opportunities.” 

The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to go beyond simply issuing a verbal rebuke of the annexation announcement. “Criticism devoid of consequences can no longer be justified with respect to this conflict. This prolonged occupation will not die of old age. Only by employing meaningful counter-measures to this illegal occupation will there be any chance of reversing this promise of annexation, and ultimately ending the occupation itself,” he said.


Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem. 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel  

For more information and media requests, please contact Abigail Eshel (+41 (0) 22 917 4148) aeshel@ohchr.org 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 jlaurence@ohchr.org 

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts. 

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