Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli government’s de facto annexation policies, a UN-appointed Commission of Inquiry said in its first report, published on October 20, 2022.
The three-member Commission is pushing for the issue to be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest court.
They stressed that under international humanitarian law, the occupation of territory in wartime is a temporary situation and does not deprive the occupied power of its statehood or sovereignty.
“Recent statements by the Secretary-General and numerous Member States have clearly indicated that any attempt at unilateral annexation of a State’s territory by another State is a violation of international law and is null and void; 143 member States, including Israel last week, voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution reaffirming this,” said Navi Pillay, the Commission Chair.
“Unless universally applied, including to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, this core principle of the United Nations Charter will become meaningless”, she added.
For their report, the Commissioners reviewed the policies and actions Israel has used to maintain the occupation and annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
They focused on how Israel has sustained and advanced its “settlement enterprise”, including statements made by Israeli officials indicating the intent to maintain permanent control over the land in violation of international law.
“By ignoring international law in establishing or facilitating the establishment of settlements, and directly or indirectly transferring Israeli civilians into these settlements, successive Israel governments have set facts on the ground to ensure permanent Israeli control in the West Bank,” said Ms. Pillay.
The Commission concluded that by continuing to occupy the territory by force, Israel incurs international responsibilities and remains accountable for violations of the rights of the Palestinians, both individually and as a people.
However, the report did not bring anything new, as it only included recommendations and not sanctions that the international community should impose on the Israeli occupation.
Palestine needs a strong international action to stop the ongoing human rights violations against its people and lands.