Close to 50 United Nations (UN) human rights experts released a joint statement on June 16, Tuesday, denouncing the Israeli plan to annex major parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. The parts of the West Bank in question include the illegal Israeli settlements built on the occupied territory and the Jordan Valley. Israel intends to extend its sovereignty to these areas and make them part of the Israeli state. The UN experts noted that the move would be illegal under international law, which bans occupying powers from annexing any part of the occupied territory by force.
As per the UN experts’ joint statement, “the annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible.”
The experts also called on the international community to actively oppose Israel’s annexation plan and prevent its implementation. The statement adds, “the international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering.”
According to the experts, the plan, if allowed to go through, will effectively result in the annexation of 30% land of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians would be left with nothing more than a “Bantustan”, ending all hopes for an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state. They also warned that the most likely outcome of the Israeli annexation would be the further realization of the 21st century apartheid against the Palestinians, amounting to “two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights.”
Calling the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories a “source of profound human rights violations against the Palestinian people”, the experts referred to the incessant past violations committed by Israel. These include land confiscation, settler violence, demolitions, excessive use of force and torture, restrictions on media and freedom of expression, among others. The statement notes that Israel has created “a two-tier system of disparate political, legal, social, cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality” against the Palestinians. It also expresses grave concerns that Israeli human rights violations will only escalate post the annexation.