Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York (UNITED NATIONS)



As Israel accelerated expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in continued defiance of United Nations resolutions and international human rights and humanitarian law, Israeli and international companies profiting from the settlements should be boycotted, a top human rights expert said at a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.

“The whole issue of Palestinian self determination is at risk here,” saidRichard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories since 1967.  The longer the process is delayed, the less realistic it is to believe that these settlers and the large settler population can be removed in such a way as to create a Palestinian State.”

Mr. Falk briefed correspondents after presenting his annual report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), in which he encouraged a boycott of United States industry giants Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and Motorola, Israeli cosmetic firm Ahava, Cemex of Mexico, Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom and Volvo Group of Sweden, among others, and for civil society to join that effort (See Press Release GA/SCH/4048).

He said the focus on the business community was partly an expression of frustration over the failure to persuade Israel to comply with its fundamental legal obligations and the ineffectiveness of the United Nations efforts to condemn expansion of the settlements, which had grown 5.3 per cent on average annually in the past decade, and now covered more than 40 per cent of the West Bank.

In the last year alone, 15,000new settlers had taken root in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Israeli officials had moved to legalize some 100 outposts previously considered unlawful under Israeli law, he said, and added that settler violence against the local Palestinian population in those areas was growing.

“This is an attempt to reach out beyond the intergovernmental and international institutional system,” Mr. Falk said, stressing that illegal settlements were “a core concern of those that seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict” through the two-State solution.

Asked if creation of an independent Palestinian State was still viable, he said that notion was in severe jeopardy and that it was much harder to envision how a sustainable peace could be achieved through the proposed two-State solution.

Such a solution was crucial for ensuring Palestinian rights and reducing regional tensions and violence.”