A UN rights investigator urged the European Union (EU) on Friday to consider taking decisive punitive measures against any Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank.
Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the EU should back up its warnings against Israeli plans with “a decisive menu of counter-measures.”
That was a reference to possible economic, trade and other sanctions the EU recently implied to take if Israel annexed parts of the West Bank.
Lynk said that Israel’s intended annexation would "lead to a marked worsening of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and daily lives of millions of Palestinians."
He said the planned annexation after July 1 was a continuation of Israel's "illegal extension of sovereignty over Palestinian and Arab lands over the past decades, underlining that now the international community was more alert to severe violations of international law.
"What would be left of the West Bank would be a moth-eaten Bantustan, which would be the end, not the beginning, of a genuine Palestinian state. This would be a modern form of apartheid, a political anomaly in the 21st century," he highlighted.
The expert emphasized that the international community, and particularly the EU, needed to take concerted action to counter the Israeli plans and ensure accountability for such grave breaches of international law.
"We have reached a point where resolutions without resolve can no longer contribute to reaching the just and durable peace and human security that Palestinians and Israelis deserve," he said.
He called on the EU to necessarily pressure Israel to abide by the international law and to detail the political, diplomatic and economic consequences that would affect Israel if it defied the international will.
Any amount of annexation is contrary to the UN Charter, and a fundamentally illegal act, he pointed out.
"Should Israel proceed with any form of annexation after 1 July — even if it is 'annexation-lite,' consisting of several settlement blocs instead of the announced 30 percent of the West Bank —the European Union must lead the world in imposing accountability measures," Lynk underscored further.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month that his government would formally annex the Jordan Valley and all settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The West Bank, including east Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, making all Jewish settlements there as well as the planned annexation illegal.