GENEVA (31 January 2020) – The Trump plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a lopsided proposal entirely in favour of one side to the conflict, said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
“What the Trump plan offers is a one and a half state solution,” Lynk said. “This Potemkin state – lacking most of the commonly understood attributes of sovereignty beyond the right to fly its flag and issue stamps – would become an entirely new entity in the annals of modern political science.
“This is not a recipe for a just and durable peace but rather endorses the creation of a 21st century Bantustan in the Middle East. The Palestinian statelet envisioned by the American plan would be scattered archipelagos of non-contiguous territory completely surrounded by Israel, with no external borders, no control over its airspace, no right to a military to defend its security, no geographic basis for a viable economy, no freedom of movement and with no ability to complain to international judicial forums against Israel or the United States.”
The Special Rapporteur expressed alarm that the plan announced this week by the United States would discard virtually every major principle of international law governing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This plan would turn the rules-based international order on its head and would permanently entrench the tragic subjugation of the Palestinians that is already existing on the ground,” he said. “The abandonment of these legal principles threatens to unravel the long-standing international consensus on the conflict, favouring realpolitik over rights, power over justice and conflict management over conflict resolution.”
A central aspect of the Trump plan would allow Israel to annex around 30 percent of the West Bank. “The annexation of territory is strictly prohibited by international law, beginning with the 1945 Charter of the United Nations,” Lynk said. “Since 1967, the UN Security Council has proclaimed this fundamental principle on eight occasions respecting the Israeli occupation, most recently in December 2016, when it reaffirmed: ‘the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.’”
The Special Rapporteur urged the international community to clearly condemn the plan’s green light to allow Israel to annex Palestinian territory. “This unilateral act undermines the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and it threatens to drag the world back to darker times, when conquest was acceptable, borders could be redrawn and territorial integrity was regularly undermined,” he said.
As well, the Special Rapporteur deplored the Trump plan’s proposal to legalize the 240 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “International law has expressly forbidden the transfer of the civilian population of an occupying power. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the Israeli settlements as a flagrant violation under international law, and the 1998 Rome Statute has deemed them to be purported war crimes.”
The Trump plan’s proposals for Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees are equally distressing, said Lynk. “The United States now recognizes the conquest and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, which remains occupied territory under international law, as embedded in scores of United Nations resolutions.”
Equally, the Trump plan’s proposal to unilaterally abrogate the long-recognized right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel if they choose, and to annul any obligation by Israel to compensate these refugees for their material and moral losses, is an evasion of well-established international principles going back to 1948.
“Nothing in the Trump plan alters the continuing prevalence of the laws of occupation, the human rights of the Palestinians under occupation, and the absolute obligation on the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve a just, equitable and durable solution on the basis of equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” said the Special Rapporteur. “International law remains the Northern Star, the only guide to a sustainable peace.”
Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.