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The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes the findings of the recent UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) factfinding mission on the impact of Israeli settlements, which stated that Palestinian human rights are violated in a multitude of forms and ways due to the existence of the settlements.


In a clear sign that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign is having a significant impact, the Mission noted ‘that some businesses have pulled out of settlements because it harms their image and might entail legal consequences’. (para 98 of the report)


The Mission found that ‘Since 1967, Israeli Governments have openly led and directly participated in the planning, construction, development, consolidation and/or encouragement of settlements’ and that ‘Government investment in the settlements has not been made explicit in the Public Budget, but allocated through hidden provisions in a process that has been described as “partially secretive” and “a political tool”… A governmental scheme of subsidies and incentives has been put in place to encourage Jewish migrants to Israel to move to settlements and to boost settlements’ economic development. Settlements have been defined as “National Priority Areas” and benefit from housing and education subsidies and direct incentives to the industrial, agricultural and tourism sectors.’


Around 520,000 Israeli settlers live in 250 settlements, or colonies, illegally implanted in the West Bank contrary to international law. The Mission considered that ‘the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, including the right to determine how to implement self-determination, the right to have a demographic and territorial presence in the OPT and the right to permanent sovereignty over natural resources, is clearly being violated by Israel through the existence and ongoing expansion of the settlements. The transfer of Israeli citizens into the OPT, prohibited under international humanitarian law and international criminal law, is a central feature of Israel’s practices and policies. (para. 38)


The Mission also reinforced previous statements made by British parliamentarians about mislabelling of goods from settlements, noting ‘that Israel labels all its export products as originating from “Israel”, including those wholly or partially produced in settlements. Some companies operating in settlements have been accused of hiding the original place of production of their products. This situation poses an issue of traceability of products for other states wishing to align themselves with their international and regional obligations. It also poses an issue in relation to consumers’ right to information. The Mission notes that these issues are increasingly being addressed by states, regional organizations and some private businesses.’ (para 99)


In its recommendations, the Mission called ‘upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law – specifically not to recognise an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations. (para 116)’ It went on: ‘Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the settlements respect human rights throughout their operations. The Mission recommends that the Human Rights Council Working Group on Business and Human Rights be seized of this matter. (para 117)

The Mission also commented on Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian children, expressing its grave concern ‘at the high number of children who are apprehended or detained, including for minor offences. They are invariably mistreated, denied due process and fair trial. In violation of international law they are transferred to detention centres in Israel.’ (para 108)


To view the press release from the Mission: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/FFM/PR_FFM_31012013_en.pdf

To view the report: