Palestinian FM welcomes UN report finding Israeli occupation 'unlawful', urges ICC to take steps
"There are reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies," a 28-page report by the UN's Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel said.
The report was published on Thursday and submitted to the UN General Assembly.
The report stressed that occupation of territory can only be a temporary situation, and recommended that the General Assembly seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice "on the legal consequences of Israel’s continued refusal to end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory".
The Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Israel has built hundreds of settlements, where over 600,000 settlers now live, in violation of international law.
It withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but continues to besiege the territory and control access to it.
Praising the inquiry, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said its findings were evidence of the effectiveness of Palestinian efforts in resorting to international law "to end the illegal Israeli occupation and achieve independence."
Al-Maliki also called on the International Criminal Court to take the inquiry into account regarding Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity, "and to take steps that would speed up the completion of the criminal investigation."
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians grinded to a halt years ago in the face of a continued Israeli refusal to withdraw from the West Bank and stop settlement activity.
"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," stated Navi Pillay, Chair of the Commission.