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PCHR Welcomes the Report of the International Fact-Finding Mission Investigating Israeli Settlements: Seek Accountability Through the International Criminal Court

Ref: 10/2013


In January 2013 the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission
has submitted its report
to the Human Rights Council which, in April 2012, had established and mandated the
mission to ‘investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the
human rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied
Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem’.

In its recommendations the Mission
states that ‘Israel
must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all
settlement activities without preconditions. In addition it must immediately
initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.’ Despite
political processes that seek to put an end to settlement expansion, the Mission observes that the
‘planning and growth of the settlements continues both of existing as well as
new structures.’


The report outlines the unlawful policies and violations that are
inherent to the presence of settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These include: the undermining of the
right to self-determination of the Palestinian people; the violation of the
right to freedom of movement, non-discrimination and equality; the ‘system of
total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in
the OPT’; violations of children’s rights through detention, the denial of a
fair trial and mistreatment in detention, and unlawful transfer to Israeli
detention centres; the failure to protect the rights of Palestinian children to
access education; and the failure to effectively prevent, investigate or
prosecute acts of settler violence. 


The Mission
emphasizes that “[t]he volume of information received on dispossession,
evictions, demolitions and displacement points to the magnitude of these
practices. These are particularly widespread in certain areas and acute in East Jerusalem.”


Fully agreeing with the observation that there is total impunity
for settler violence, as well as settlement expansion, PCHR particularly
supports the Mission’s reference to the International Criminal Court as a means
of establishing accountability for the settlement enterprise in the West Bank,
including East Jerusalem, which constitutes a war crime under Article 8 (2) (b)
(viii) of the Rome Statute. The report concludes that ‘The Rome Statute
establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the
deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying Power of
parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation
or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within
or outside this territory. Ratification of the Statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for
gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international
humanitarian law and justice for victims.’


It is the time for Palestine
to sign and ratify the Rome Statute and join the 121 States that have already
become parties to the Statute. As the Mission
report states: “[r]atification of the Statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for
gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international
humanitarian law and justice for victims.”