The United Nations’ first report on the broad policy of Israeli settlements concluded on Thursday that the government’s practice of “creeping annexation” clearly violated the human rights of Palestinians, and called for the country to immediately stop the practice.

In its report to the 47-nation Human Rights Council (HRC), a panel of investigators said Israel was violating international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the treaties that establish the ground rules for what is considered humane during wartime.

The Israeli government has persisted in settling Palestinian-occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank, “despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation”, the report said.

French judge Christine Chanet, who led the panel, said Israel never cooperated with the probe, which the Council ordered last March. At a news conference, she called the report “a kind of weapon for the Palestinians” if they want to take up their grievances before The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). — AP

‘Biased’

AFP reports from Jerusalem:

Israel slammed the report as “biased”, while the Palestinians welcomed it, saying it was “brave”.

“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi describing it as “bold, clear and brave” and saying it “unequivocally” categorised settlement building as illegal.