Asma among UN experts to probe Israeli settlements
07 July, 2012
GENEVA: The United Nations on Friday named French judge Christine Chanet as the leader of a team of three experts who will investigate whether Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories violate human rights law.
The other team members are Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir and Botswana judge Unity Dow. Jahangir has been the subject of human rights cases in the past, having been put under house arrest in 1983 and warned of a plot to assassinate her last month.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) launched the probe in March under an initiative brought to the 47-member forum by the Palestinian Authority. Israel's ally the United States was the only member to vote against it. The council said Israel's planned construction of new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel on Friday condemned the investigation. "The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
As the team will not be allowed access to Israeli settlements, they are likely to have to gather information from second-hand sources, including media.
Even if the investigators conclude settlements violate human rights law, US opposition is likely to stymie any attempt to impose any punishment on Israel. The council's president, Uruguay's ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, announced the names of the investigators after holding consultations among member states, diplomats said.
About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians seek the territory for an independent state along with the Gaza Strip.