Israel won’t cooperate with UNHRC settlement mission

Israel said Friday that it would refuse cooperation with a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) fact finding mission who will investigate whether Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories violate human rights law. The UN considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law.

The president of the UNHCR’ Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy-Lasserre, named three delegates to the panel on Friday evening: French judge Christine Chanet, Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir and Botswana judge Unity Dow. Jahangir has been the subject of human rights cases in the past, having been put under house arrest in 1983 and warned of a plot to assassinate her last month.

Israeli peace activists in a protest against settlers’ violence, Anatot settlement, occupied West Bank, November 2011 (Photo: Activestills)

The UN Human Rights Council launched the probe in March under an initiative brought to the 47-member forum by the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s ally the United States was the only member to vote against it. The council said Israel’s planned construction of new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

On Monday Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, told a news conference that the acceleration of settlement building had “closed the book” on the feasibility of a two-state solution. “The Palestinian position gets weaker and weaker through time and the Israelis get more and more of a fait accompli through their unlawful activities,” he said. “Is it just a delaying tactic that allows the Israelis to expand the settlements, expand the settled population, demolish more and more Palestinian homes and structures and engage in a program that has assumed such proportions that the language of ethnic cleansing is the only way to describe the demographic changes in East Jerusalem?”