The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, has declared that Israel is denying Palestine’s right to development by creating rampant poverty, “epic” unemployment, and economic stagnation.
The expert is calling on Israel to end the nearly 50 years of occupation, referring to the Palestinian situation as an atmosphere of “despair and hopelessness.”
In his first report to the UN General Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee), he said: “The Palestinian economy is without parallel in the modern world. Israel’s occupation is denying Palestine’s right to development and severely hampering its ability to attain even the minimum targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
The UN Declaration on the Right to Development that was adopted by the General Assembly 30 years ago provides that every human being and all peoples have an inalienable right to equitable and just economic and social development that is fully observant of all human rights. This right applies with full force to a territory under occupation.
“Poverty is rising. Unemployment is rising to epic levels. Food insecurity is becoming more acute. The Palestinian economy is becoming more stifled and less viable under the occupation,” the expert continued. “Israel’s deliberate fragmentation of the [Occupied Palestinian Territory] and lack of development has negatively impacted human rights.”
Gaza has a rate of unemployment of 42 per cent, one of the highest in the world. Among young people, that rate is 58 per cent. Since 1999, the rate of unemployment throughout the entire OPT has risen from 12 per cent to 27 per cent.
Mr. Lynk called the occupation, which will be 50 years old next year, “seriously deficient in its respect for the legal principles and obligations embedded within the right to development.”
“The deepening of the occupation, the constriction of basic human rights and the utter absence of a political horizon leading to self-determination for the Palestinians have reinforced an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness,” he underscored.
During his visit in July of this year to Amman, Jordan, he met with civil society groups, international organizations and Palestinian Government officials, where he received submissions for his report.
Thus far, the Special Rapporteur has not received a response from the Israeli Government for his request to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He pointed out to the General Assembly the fundamental obligation of Member States to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms.
He praised human rights groups in the region for their inspirational courage and commitment.
“They face scorn and worse for those invested in the violation of human rights, and yet they remain more committed than ever to their invaluable work,” he said the General Assembly, adding praise for their consistent high quality of research and activism.
“If a just and compassionate peace is ever to come to the Middle East, we will owe much to these fearless advocates,” he concluded.
This post was originally published in UN News Centre. Click here to read.