UN experts decide Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas

Experts with the UN’s top human rights body on Thursday decried Israel’s occupation of territories Palestinians seek for their future state, saying it was “unlawful under international law” and increasing entrenched.

The experts, members of a special commission, also appealed to the International Court of Justice to offer its opinion on the matter. Their statement came in a report to the UN General Assembly, which is to be discussed the report next week.

The commission of inquiry on the occupied West Bank, Gaza, east Jerusalem and Israel was set up last year in the wake of an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. The fighting at the time killed at least 261 people in Gaza and 14 people in Israel, according to the United Nations.

The 28-page report highlights gaps in international humanitarian law regarding occupation and is meant to ratchet up international pressure on Israel to end settlements and other forms of control over Palestinian areas — though there are no signs Israel has any intention of doing so.

The commission cited “reasonable grounds” to conclude that the occupation “is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence” as well as the Israeli government’s “de-facto annexation policies.”

“By ignoring international law in establishing or facilitating the establishment of settlements, and directly or indirectly transferring Israeli civilians into these settlements, successive Israel governments have set facts on the ground to ensure permanent Israeli control in the West Bank,” said Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief who chairs the commission.

The panel, which Israeli leaders have repeatedly accused of anti-Israel bias, reviewed the impact of many years of Israeli “occupation and de-facto annexation policies” on the human rights of Palestinians.

It looked into issues such as destruction of homes and property,

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