Israeli Settlements Violate International Human Rights Standards
The announcement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which stated that the US will no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, was denounced by human rights defenders across the world, including ESCR-Net members.
Al Haq in the West Bank published a statement as did Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, made by a wider coalition of Palestinian NGOs soon after the announcement was made condemning the US stance and describing it as a blatant disregard to well-established and recognized international law which serves to rubber-stamp Israel’s unlawful acquisition of territory in the West Bank through use of force and prolonged military occupation, to the detriment of the human rights of the area’s residents.
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have led to the forcible displacement of the Palestinian population, as well as the appropriation of Palestinian public and private lands and the destruction of civilian property. These acts are prohibited under international humanitarian law and are considered gross violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian population. UN Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) specifically reaffirms that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”. Meanwhile, in its authoritative 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the ICJ concluded “that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.
The statement also asserts the inalienable rights to self-determination of the Palestinian people; an essential principle in international law, which is is binding on all States, including the United States.
Amnesty International also issued a statement denouncing Pompeo’s announcement and called on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activity as a first step to dismantling all Israeli settlements and related infrastructure in the OPT and relocating Israeli civilians living in such settlements outside of the OPT.