Al-Haq urges UNSC members to take further action based on resolution 2334 addressing Israeli settlements
(PALESTINE, Ramallah, 5 January 2017) — The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members should take further actions based on resolution 2334 (2016), Al-Haq said in a letter of commendation to the sponsors of the resolution, New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela. The resolution was adopted on 23 December 2016, despite undue pressure from Israel and others.
“Al-Haq welcomes the Security Council’s adoption of this resolution as it reaffirms the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and other Israeli measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the OPT.” The letter said.
The letter also noted that the resolution falls short in several respects. full text of the letter:
Dear [Prime Minister/President],
Al-Haq would like to take this opportunity to thank the state of [New Zealand/Malaysia/Senegal/Venezuela] for sponsoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) (UNSC 2334) despite undue pressure from Israel and others. Al-Haq welcomes the Security Council’s adoption of this resolution as it reaffirms the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and other Israeli “measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status” of the OPT. This demonstrates Security Council members’ commitment to and protection of international law principles. Accordingly, in light of Israel’s continued disregard of international law and its duties as Occupying Power, Al-Haq urges Security Council members to take further action based on the resolution.
Al-Haq notes that the resolution provides several avenues for states and the Security Council to hold Israel accountable for its continued violations of international law. In particular, Al-Haq would like to highlight paragraph 12 of the resolution, which calls upon “the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution.” Al-Haq urges [New Zealand/Malaysia/Senegal/Venezuela] and other members of the Security Council to use this as an opportunity to move beyond mere statements to concrete and effective actions, including the imposition of sanctions against Israel for its continued violations of international law.
Further, Al-Haq commends members of the Security Council for recognizing that states must “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” In making this call, the Security Council has affirmed third states’ legal obligations to not recognize as lawful, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining an unlawful situation created by a serious breach of peremptory norms. Therefore, in fulfilling this obligation, Al-Haq calls on all states to ban Israeli settlement products from entering their domestic markets.
Notwithstanding the above, Al-Haq notes that the resolution falls short in several respects. First, Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights do not begin or end with the construction and expansion of the illegal settlement enterprise. During the nearly 50 years of occupation, Israeli violations span acts of collective punishment, extrajudicial killing, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and administrative detention, amongst others. Recognition of and accountability for these violations is vital for achieving meaningful peace and justice. We therefore call upon Security Council members to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor during the preliminary examination on the situation in Palestine, and any future phases.
Second, the resolution merely reiterates the Security Council’s previous demand that Israel cease all settlement activities in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, and recalls the Quartet Roadmap demand for only the dismantling of “settlement outposts erected since March 2001.” Notably, UNSC resolution 465 (1980) calls for the dismantling of all existing settlements. Because the absence of such a call in the most recent resolution may be interpreted by interested parties as de facto legitimization of the existing settlement enterprise, Al-Haq reaffirms that all settlements, irrespective of their location, time of establishment, or status under Israeli domestic law have “no legal validity” (as affirmed in paragraph 1) and must be dismantled. Failure to do so is not only inconsistent with international law, but it also rewards Israel for its unlawful actions and obstructs “the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace” that UNSC 2334 seeks to attain.
Third, Al-Haq is troubled by the resolution’s repeated references to the various “peace initiatives,” including the Quartet Roadmap and the Arab Peace Initiative. Such initiatives have attempted to equalize the roles and actions of Israel, the Occupying Power, and Palestinians, the occupied protected population, and have replaced accountability for Israel’s violations of international law with incentives to Israel to simply abide by its international law obligations.
The time has come for the international community to abandon the carrot and stick approach, and take actions in adherence with their obligations under international law that will ultimately pave the way for peace and justice.
For further legal analysis on the banning of settlement products, see Al-Haq’s report “Feasting on the Occupation: Illegality of Settlement Produce and the Responsibility of EU Member States under International Law.” While the report focuses on the EU’s import of Israeli produce, Section 3.4 Legal Consequences for Third States, is relevant for other states.
 Several of Israel’s actions, including wilful killing, torture, unlawful transfer and unlawful extensive destruction and appropriation of property, amount to grave breaches under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al-Haq reminds all High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions that Common Article 1 lays down the obligation to respect and ensure respect for the Conventions, requiring third states to not only avoid encouraging international humanitarian law violations committed by others, but also to take steps to put an end to ongoing violations and to actively prevent their occurrence.