Israeli Settlements Amount to War Crime, UN Rights Official Says

Reuters
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The Israeli settlement outpost of Evyatar during its evacuation, last week.
The Israeli settlement outpost of Evyatar during its evacuation, last week. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Reuters

Israeli settlements in the West Bank amount to a war crime, a UN human rights investigator said on Friday, calling on countries to make clear to Israel that its "illegal occupation" cannot be cost-free.

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Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, was addressing a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, boycotted by Israel which does not recognize his mandate or cooperate with him.

"I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime," Lynk said. "I submit to you that this finding compels the international community...to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free."

Many countries consider the settlements a breach of international law. Israel disputes this and cites Biblical and historical connections to the land, as well as security needs.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, but the issue of Jewish settlements on land captured by Israel in a 1967 war has long been a stumbling block in the peace process. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.

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