Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has long been dismissed by the US and Israel as a fringe “hate movement,” but now, a similar set of tactics has been endorsed by a United Nations’ (UN) expert on human rights.
Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that Michael Lynk, who serves as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, said that the European Union (EU) and other world powers should consider isolating Israel on the world stage until it stops building new settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Lynk said that “cutting economic, political and cultural ties” could deter new settlements as well as help pave the way for Palestinian statehood. Amongst his suggestions was suspending Israel’s UN membership until it unequivocally ends settlement construction.
He added that the EU could play a decisive role as around 40 percent of Israel’s external trade flows to the 28-nation bloc. Whereas the United States has consistently voted against UN resolutions condemning Israel, European governments have been more willing to back measures such as official UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Lynk stressed that the international community does, in fact, have considerable leverage of Israel that it is not currently utilizing.
“The international community actually holds a lot of cards with Israel… [and] has to look at the available menu of countermeasures that is commonly used to a wide range of countries involving gross human rights violations,” he said to Al Jazeera.
Though his proposals are not legally binding, they could serve as a blueprint for an alternative means of achieving a Palestinian state given the growing stalemate over peace negotiations.
Lynk also points to two other mechanisms from international institutions that could be used to put greater pressure on Israel. One is a blacklist of companies that profit from the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has been drawn up by UN researchers but not yet published. Another is plans by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israel for alleged human rights violations that stretch back to 2015.
He was adamant that Israel shows no signs of winding down the occupation of its own accord, and that only through international pressure could there be changes on the ground.
“I don’t know what the international community needs to come to the realisation that Israel is not going to unwind the occupation and permit Palestinian self-determination all on its own,” he told Al Jazeera.
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