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UN rights experts call on Israel to remove barrier on occupied Palestinian territory

4 August 2005 A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on Israel to dismantle the barrier it is building in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to make reparation for all damage caused, stressing that continued construction constitutes a violation of the country's human rights obligations.

They also asserted that there seemed to be an incompatibility between UN support for the so-called Road Map peace plan calling for a two-State solution to the Middle East crisis and last year’s advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s own judicial body, on the wall.

“In large measure it seems that the ICJ's opinion has been ignored in favour of negotiations conducted in terms of the Road Map process,” the eight Special Procedures mandate holders of the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights said in a statement, noting that the Court held the building of a barrier in occupied Palestinian territory illegal and called on Israel to dismantle it and pay reparations.

But the Road Map negotiations “seem to accept the continued presence of some settlements, which were found by the ICJ to be unlawful, and by necessary implication the continued existence of some parts of the wall in Palestinian territory,” they said of the peace plan sponsored by the Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – which calls for a series of parallel steps leading to two states living side-by-side in peace by 2005.

“In short, there seems to be an incompatibility between the Road Map negotiations and the Court's opinion that should be of concern to the United Nations which is also a party to the Quartet. The United Nations clearly cannot make itself a party to negotiations that are not based on the opinion of its own judicial body,” the experts said.

They added that the barrier violated Israel's obligations under international human rights law, including freedom of movement and the rights to adequate housing, food, family life, education and health, as well as breaching important norms of international humanitarian law prohibiting annexation of occupied territory and the establishment of settlements.

The eight experts were: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard; Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari; Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Erturk; Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Munoz Villalobos; Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt; Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène; Chairperson, Rapporteur, Working Group on arbitrary detention, Leila Zerrougui; and Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, Sigma Huda.

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