Experts say continued Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate Palestinians’ human rights

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Human Rights Council

UN human rights experts say continued Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate a multitude of Palestinian’s human rights violate international law and constitute war crimes. But the members of a fact-finding mission say only the International Criminal Court can decide whether to take judicial action on the matter.

The mission was set up by the Human Rights Council in June last year.

Its report published today is based on testimony from victims, academics and lawyers including Palestinians and Israelis.

The three jurists from France, Pakistan and Botswana travelled to Jordan but were not allowed into Israel.

Their report on the settlements policy points to a pattern of breeches characterized mainly by the denial of the right to self determination and systematic discrimination against Palestinians.

The report says private entities have also facilitated and profited from the construction of the settlements.

The mission’s chairperson, Christine Chanet told journalists in Geneva Thursday Israel should cease all settlement activity without preconditions.

” To transfer civilian populations in occupied territories is prohibited by article 49 of the Geneva Convention.  It is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise to the right to self determination. If you look at the map, you will see how the settlements are breaking the continuity of Palestinian land. It is a kind of creeping annexation. These offences are falling under the provision of article 8 of the ICC statute.  Article 8 of the ICC statute is the Chapter on War Crimes.

Ms. Chanet said decisions on legal action were not part of the fact-finding mission’s mandate.

The mission’s report will be considered by the Human Rights Council in March.

Yvette Morris, UN Radio, Geneva

Duration: 1’58″

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