The U.N. independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for an international ban on all products made in Israeli settlements as a step to potentially end Israel’s 52-year “illegal occupation.”
Michael Lynk told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that the international community should also issue “a clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”
Israel is deeply opposed to the Palestinian-led international boycott movement, which it views as an attack on its very existence. Supporters of the boycott say it is a non-violent way of protesting Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Lynk’s statement.
Lynk said the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its occupation and remove barriers to self-determination for the Palestinians.
He pointed to the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as the economic situation there “continues to move from dire to acute to unimaginable,” with over half of Gaza’s population “food insecure,” the unemployment rate over 50%, and 70% of Gazans younger than 30 without work.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamic terrorist group Hamas seized power in 2007, and the border closures coupled with mismanagement by Hamas authorities have devastated the territory’s economy.
Lynk noted more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 33,000 wounded by Israeli fire at the Gaza-Israeli border since March 2018, when Hamas began organizing protests against the blockade.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report to the Human Rights Council in March said virtually all the demonstrators killed were shot by Israeli soldiers, calling that a violation of the international law requiring those fighting to distinguish between combatants and civilians. The report also faulted Hamas for its role in the clashes.
Israel, which strongly criticized the report, says its army is defending the country’s border against violent infiltration attempts and accuses Hamas of using the large crowds as cover to carry out attacks.
“Israel has demonstrated virtually no accountability to address these actions,” Lynk said.
Lynk, who is a Canadian law professor, said Israel’s occupation of territory the Palestinians want for their own state has been characterized by numerous and serious violations of international law, but “the international community has displayed great unwillingness to impose any meaningful accountability on Israel.”
He called for “bold measures and the determination to enforce accountability,” starting with an international agreement on “a complete ban on the export of all products made in the illegal Israeli settlements in the world market.”