UN Committee Releases Exhaustive Study on the Legality of Israel’s Occupation – Jeff Wright 9/4/23

Source: Mondoweiss.net

“The study is the most comprehensive and persuasive analysis of why the Israel occupation has now become illegal,” says former UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk. “It will be the intellectual and political touchstone on Palestine and international law for some time.”

Last week, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) issued a study two years in the making: The Legality of the Israeli Occupation of the Occupied Territories, Including East Jerusalem.

Committee Chair Ambassador Cheikh Niang introduced the study commissioned by the CEIRPP and prepared by the Irish Human Rights Centre of the National University of Ireland in Galway. Niang said, “The relevance and urgency of this study cannot be overstated… It is incumbent upon us, the international community, to deepen our understanding of the legal issues raised by this prolonged occupation and its profound impact on human rights, peace, and stability in the region.”

At the invitation of the UN committee, former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Lynk reflected on the study. He highlighted many of its findings and described it as “the most comprehensive, the most detailed, the most thorough documentation addressing the questions that the UN General Assembly has put before the International Criminal Court of Justice regarding its advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s now over 56-year occupation of Palestine.”

The 106-page report is an exhaustive study (with over 700 footnotes) concluding that the conduct of Israel meets “two clear grounds in international law establishing when a belligerent occupation may be categorized as illegal.” [A belligerent occupation, the term most often used in international law, is more commonly called a military occupation and is defined as the military control by a ruling power over a territory outside of that power’s sovereign territory.]

The study takes the reader into the weeds of international law: definitions; the points at which an occupation allowed under international law can be considered an illegal occupation; related cases settled before the International Court of Justice (ICJ); an examination—and refutation—of Israel’s policies and positions regarding its administration of the Palestinian territory; a presentation of the evidence that the belligerent occupation has become illegal; and an examination of the responsibility—under international law—for the international community to act to bring an end to the occupation.

Still, the legal study is accessible to lay readers. Those well-informed about the ongoing situation in Palestine/Israel will add to their understanding through the many resources and findings uncovered by the study.

While it acknowledges that “the most appropriate forum for examining the legality of the occupation is the International Court of Justice,” the study, as it says, “provides the factual basis to support the finding that Israel’s occupation is illegal.”

Following a finding of illegality, the study concludes that, according to international law,

the consequences should be the immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of Israel’s military forces; the withdrawal of colonial settlers; and the dismantling of the military administrative regime, with clear instructions that withdrawal of breach of an internationally wrongful act is not subject to negotiation. Full and commensurate reparations should be accorded to the affected Palestinian individuals, corporations and entities for the generational harm caused by Israel’s land and property appropriations, house demolitions, pillage of natural resources, denial of return, and other war crimes against humanity orchestrated for the colonialist, annexationists aims of an illegal occupant.

Arguments are expected to be heard in The Hague by the ICJ next spring on the legality of the Israel occupation and the legal consequences incumbent on the international community….

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