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Expert says planned Jordan Valley annexation is illegal

GENEVA (12 September 2019) – A UN human rights expert has denounced comments by Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu that he would order the annexation of the Jordan Valley if re-elected prime minister, saying such action would represent a flagrant challenge to the modern rules-based international order.

“To assert the right to annex in the 21st century is to attempt to re-enter a world that no longer exists,” said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

“Annexation is strictly prohibited under international law under any circumstances, let alone for political or electoral considerations.

“Now, with this announcement, the patina of a temporary occupation has surely come to an end. Israel, the occupying power, has demonstrated no willingness to either fulfill its international obligations or to accept the many United Nations resolutions commanding it to stop its illegal settlement enterprise and to end its 52-year old occupation.”

Annexation was outlawed by the international community in 1945, with the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations.

The Jordan Valley makes up 30 percent of the occupied West Bank, and is home more than 65,000 Palestinians who live there alongside 11,000 Israeli settlers.

“By annexing these areas, Israel will further confine Palestinians to live in small, fragmented and disconnected cantons while others will continue to live under Israeli military rule,” Lynk said. “The annexation, if realized, will effectively end the illusion of a meaningful two-state solution, and will instead further entrench a one state reality of separate and vastly unequal legal systems, political rights and social opportunities.”

The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to go beyond simply issuing a verbal rebuke of the annexation announcement. “Criticism devoid of consequences can no longer be justified with respect to this conflict. This prolonged occupation will not die of old age. Only by employing meaningful counter-measures to this illegal occupation will there be any chance of reversing this promise of annexation, and ultimately ending the occupation itself,” he said.

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