World Bulletin / News Desk
The United Nations named French judge Christine Chanet on Friday as the leader of a team of three experts who will investigate whether Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories violate human rights law.
International Court of Justice, the highest U.N. legal body for disputes, ruled Israel settlements are illegal on occupied territories. Israel placed about 500,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem where 2.5 million Palestinians live.
The other team members are Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir and Botswana judge Unity Dow.
The U.N. 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 occupied 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 refuses cooperation
Israel on Friday vowed to halt probe. "This fact-finding mission will find no co-operation in Israel, and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the Territories," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
The council's president, Uruguay's ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, announced the names of the investigators after holding consultations among member states, diplomats said.
On Monday Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, told a news conference that the acceleration of settlement building had "closed the book" on the feasibility of a two-state solution.
"The Palestinian position gets weaker and weaker through time and the Israelis get more and more of a fait accompli through their unlawful activities," he said.
"Is it just a delaying tactic that allows the Israelis to expand the settlements, expand the settled population, demolish more and more Palestinian homes and structures and engage in a programme that has assumed such proportions that the language of ethnic cleansing is the only way to describe the demographic changes in East Jerusalem?"