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As a New “Peace Plan” Looms, the International Community must Stand Against Israel-US Annexation Strategy

Saturday, 18 May 2019 08:51
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As a New “Peace Plan” Looms, the International Community must Stand Against Israel-US Annexation StrategyA year ago, the United States (U.S.) opened its embassy in occupied Jerusalem after moving it from Tel Aviv. The move was preceded by U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, running counter to decades of established U.S. policy and peremptory rules of international law. Since that time, and as the international community anticipates the upcoming release of a new U.S. Middle East peace plan, the U.S. has also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan, and has remained silent[1] as to possible action should Israel annex the occupied West Bank, as threatened by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during the 2019 election campaign.

United Nations (UN) Member States must fulfill their legal obligations and urgently address the annexation of Jerusalem and the risk of imminent annexation of the West Bank. Member States must take a  firm stand against the U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over unlawfully annexed territory, and the implications it will have for the respect of international law.

The U.S. is not only flouting the UN Charter and the established prohibition on the acquisition of territory through the threat or use of force, but is normalizing and imposing the principle of “might over right” and the acceptability of colonization, while encouraging other States to also move their embassies to Jerusalem. The US actions have served to embolden Israel, as it continues on its path of settlement of Palestinian land and targeting the rights of the Palestinian people in direct contravention of international law and UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 2334 (2016).

Against this backdrop, the U.S. is also expected to put forth its so-called “deal of the century” reportedly in early June 2019. This “deal” will undoubtedly seek to not only condone, but also to reward Israel for its decades-long violations of international law, including its unlawful transfer of its own population into the occupied Palestinian territory. Recent Israeli and U.S. actions demonstrate that this plan has already been set into motion: deprive Palestinians of needed aid to coerce them into cooperating; attempt to obstruct legal avenues for remedy, including by threatening the International Criminal Court (ICC); and take unilateral action irrespective of international law or world opinion in order to cement Israel’s control over Palestinian land.

In addition, as recalled by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Gaza, with a population density that is one of the highest in the world, will soon become unlivable, due to “movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990s, increasing in the 2000s and maintained after Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza in 2005. After Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, Israel declared Gaza ‘hostile territory’ in June 2007 and imposed an air, land and sea blockade in a campaign of ‘economic warfare’.”[2]

From March 2018, after over a decade of suffocating blockade, weekly unarmed protests at the fence have been taking place to stress the right of return of Palestinian refugees and to draw attention to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. The Commission of Inquiry found that hundreds of civilians have been unlawfully targeted by the Israeli military with lethal and other excessive force within the demonstrations. Highlighting a lack of confidence in the Israeli justice system and its ability to conduct investigations to international standards, the Commission of Inquiry recommended that States carry out their duty to exercise criminal jurisdiction vis-à-vis the alleged crimes described in the report.[3]

After over 70 years of failing to respect and uphold the basic rights of the Palestinian people, third States must act immediately to ensure the right to self-determination for Palestinians and accountability for violations of human rights and commission of international crimes. States must not wait for the “deal of the century” to be presented or for any other unlawful unilateral measures to be taken by the U.S. in favor of an unveiled attempt at legitimizing Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, occupation and colonization. The undersigned organizations underscore the dire situation that the Palestinian civilian population is facing due to Israel’s prolonged occupation, and the urgent need for States to fulfill their obligations and take action. Accordingly we call on UN Member States to not wait for the unveiling of the U.S. plan, but to immediately:

  • Reject Israel’s unilateral sovereignty over Jerusalem, in line with international law and UN resolutions specific to the status of Jerusalem;
  • Publicly condemn the move of the U.S. Embassy and others to Jerusalem, and refrain from establishing embassies, consular and trade offices in Jerusalem;
  • Ban Israeli settlement products in compliance with third State obligations under international law;
  • Cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination on the situation of Palestine;
  • Impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on individuals that are identified as responsible for or complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including during the course of the Great Return March as established by the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry; and
  • Take all other measures possible under international law, including considering the withdrawal of diplomatic recognition, until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territory and fulfills its obligations as a Member State of the UN.

Statement Endorsed by:

  • Al-Haq
  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
  • Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council
  • US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

[1]         U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not respond when asked by Congress on 9 April 2019.

[2]         Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 25 February 2019, A/HRC/40/74, paragraph 15

[3]         Ibid footnote 2, paragraphs 917, 995

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