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UN rights chief: West Bank annexation 'illegal'

Ma'an News Agency

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on June 29 called on Israel to halt its efforts to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel plans to annex settlements in the West Bank, as well as areas of the Jordan Valley, in the coming days. Bachelet said that, regardless of how much land Israel tries to annex, such a move is illegal. She added that while the consequences of annexation would be hard to predict, "they are likely to be disastrous for the Palestinians, for Israel itself, and for the wider region."

According to Bachelet, the annexation would likely increase human rights violations. Palestinians would be restricted in where they could go, which could lead to difficulties obtaining essential services such as health and education. Additionally, Palestinians may be forced to move out of areas they now inhabit. If Israel's settlements were to expand into these areas, this would increase tensions between the two groups.

Bachelet stated:

This is a highly combustible mix. I am deeply concerned that even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity. The existing two-tier system of law in the same territory will become embedded, with devastating impacts on the lives of Palestinians who have little or no access to legal remedy.

UN human rights experts have also called on Israel to halt the annexation.

From Jurist, June 29. Used with permission.