BNC Statement: Palestinian civil society welcomes the findings and recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Israeli settlements
Occupied Palestine, 15 February 2013 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad coalition of the largest Palestinian civil society organizations, trade unions and NGO networks, supports the outcomes of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements that calls for boycotts and sanctions as measures required to end the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise. The BNC calls upon states, members of the Human Rights Council, to adopt the report, and on all governments and business enterprises to implement its recommendations. The BNC also calls upon conscientious citizens and civic organizations worldwide to use this report as a tool to intensity the global civil society BDS Campaign and put pressure on governments to implement its recommendations.
The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem (OPT) released the official edited version of the report on 14 February 2013, and States Members of the UN Human Rights Council are expected to discuss and vote on the report in March. The Mission was established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012, composed of independent experts, and mandated to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians in the OPT, including East Jerusalem (OPT). Prevented from entering the OPT by Israel, the Mission operated from Geneva and Amman and analyzed dozens of reports, as well as testimonies presented by Palestinian victims, witnesses and experts. In recognition of the experience and expertise of Palestinian civil society’s BDS Campaign, the BNC was invited to explain the role of private settler and business entities, and to suggest accountability measures which can be pursued by the Human Rights Council.
The BNC appreciates the Mission’s analysis ‘which is based on the International Court of Justice advisory opinion of 2004 and concludes that the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people is violated by the Israeli policies of “creeping annexation” and the massive transfer of Israeli citizens into the OPT (forced population transfer), and that these are serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Consequently, the Mission calls upon Israel to cease all settlement activities without preconditions, withdraw all settlers from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and ensure adequate and effective remedy to all Palestinian victims.
The BNC appreciates in particular the Mission’s conclusion that the serious violations caused by Israel’s settlement enterprise engage third-state responsibility, as well as legal obligations for private (business) entities. The BNC welcomes the Mission’s recommendation to all UN Member States to accord Israel the treatment reserved for states responsible for such serious violations — meaning a ban on trade with the settlements, and boycotts and sanctions against the State of Israel and its institutions, as well as against private entities assisting or profiting from the illegal and criminal settlement enterprise. Equally important is the Mission’s recommendation to private companies to assess the human rights impact of their activities and terminate their business interests in the settlements. In this context, the Mission calls upon states to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that businesses respect this obligation. It also recommends that the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights discuss further steps in this regard.
Finally, the BNC also welcomes the conclusion that some of the serious violations of international humanitarian law caused by the Israeli settlement enterprise constitute war crimes, which entail individual criminal responsibility and fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The BNC considers the fact that the Mission did not examine the important question of the relationship between the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise and colonialism and apartheid to be the major shortcoming of the report – especially since the Mission finds that the settlements are maintained and developed for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews through a “system of total segregation” which, combined with a strict military regime, undermines the human rights of Palestinians and causes dispossession and forced displacement.
The BNC calls upon states, members of the Human Rights Council, to adopt the report, and on all governments and business enterprises to implement its recommendations.
The BNC also calls upon conscientious citizens and civic organizations worldwide to use this report as a tool to intensity the global civil society BDS Campaign and put pressure on governments to implement its recommendations.
 Report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-63_en.pdf
 See: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/settlements-and-settler-violence/603-legal-memorandum-on-state-responsibility-in-relation-to-israels-illegal-settlement-enterprise
 See paragraph 116 in the Mission’s report.
 See paragraph 117 in the Mission’s report.
 Paragraph 103 in the Mission’s report.