Ex-UN rapporteur Richard Falk, who co-wrote report accusing Israel of imposing 'apartheid regime', spoke in Istanbul.
A former United Nations human rights investigator and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University in the U.S. said it was “clear that [on] all the major issues international law is strongly on the side of Palestinians".
“Looking at Israel-Palestine from the perspective of international law is interesting on its own independent of how one views the substantive issues,” Richard A. Falk said during a conference titled “Palestine, Apartheid and Future” at Istanbul Sebahattin Zaim University on Wednesday.
“It is interesting because on the one side it is clear that [on] all the major issues international law is strongly on the side of Palestinians whether it is a matter of the illegal settlement, the blockade of Gaza, the annexation of Jerusalem, the diversion of water, the use of excessive force, very important issue, the right of return of refugees,” Falk told a crowd of mostly students in Istanbul.
Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, along with Syria’s Golan Heights, after defeating Egypt, Jordan and Syria during the 1967 six-day war, later annexing East Jerusalem, claiming the entire city as its “eternal and undivided” capital.
Israel has since made peace with Jordan and Egypt -- returning the captured Sinai Peninsula to the latter -- and now boasts of improved ties with other Arab states, which have offered to recognize Israel in return for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.
This proposal for a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, has long been demanded by the Palestinians and is generally accepted by the international community.
Numerous rounds of peace talks, however, have so far failed to make it a reality.
“Every important issue is rather clearly and decisively in favor of the Palestinian position. And that’s has been true for decades now for at least the 70 years that Israel has existed as a state and a member of the United Nations,” Falk said.
“And yet nothing has happened to implement the international law as it should be implemented if it is to be in force against the strong and weak equally,” he added.
According to the former UN human rights investigator this is a “precondition of any kind of real legal system”.
“Law is not really a law if it is not applied to all that are subject to its authority. So you have this sense that this international law favors the Palestinians but it does not make any difference,” he added.
“Their situation has gotten worse and worse over the years,” he said.
Falk added international law still remained “extremely important” for the Palestinians as an instrument for achieving their goals of self-determination and sustainable peace.
The former UN human rights rapporteur for the occupied territories, Falk is the co-writer of a UN report, which accused Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on the Palestinian people -- the first time a UN agency had leveled such an allegation.
The report commissioned by the Beirut-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said Israel had “established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. It said there was “overwhelming evidence” of Israel’s guilt of the “crime of apartheid”.
UN Under-Secretary-General Rima Khalaf resigned from her post after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres forced her to withdraw the report.