Expectations for the success of the Trump administration’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear to be very low, UN special investigator Michael Lynk told reporters at the United Nations in New York ahead of US special envoy Jared Kushner and his assistant Avi Berkowitz.
Kushner, who has taken the lead on the Trump peace plan, is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz to discuss the plan. Kushner’s assistant, Avi Berkowitz, is expected to join as well.
No date has been set for the release of the political component of the plan, but it is presumed that it would only be published after the formation of a government.
“There seems to be a very low expectation that [the peace plan] would have much meaningful impact on the ground, if and when it ever winds up getting released,” said Lynk, who is the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.
He spoke with reporters on Thursday about the plan as part of a press conference he gave about the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its continued “occupation” of the West Bank. Right-wing Israelis hold that Area C of the West Bank, and certainly the settlements located there, should be annexed to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would annex the settlements, should he become prime minister. It is widely believed that the Trump peace plan would allow Israel to retain the settlements.
Lynk holds that settlement activity is a war crime. Both he and the UN support a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines, a move that would have to include the evacuation of some 130 settlements that are home to more than 430,000 Israelis.
Lynk said that any peace plan put forward by the United States must adhere to international law, a move which he holds would make it impossible for it to include the settlements.
In a report he presented to the UN in New York last week, and in his Thursday press conference, Lynk said that international pressure is the best way to halt settlement activity and force an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
In particular, he said, the international community and the UN must ensure compliance, particularly with the 30 to 35 UN Security Council resolutions, that have been approved with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967.
The international community has long promised to hold Israel to account and it has the power to do so, Lynk said.
The starting point for compliance is a “complete ban on all goods and services produced in whole or in part [in] the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem from entering the international market,” Lynk said.
Secondly, he called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to complete her database of businesses operating over the Green Line, which her office has worked on since 2016.
This database could become a template for other global conflicts, he said.
Should those mild measures not work, Lynk said, harsher measures could be employed, such as an arms embargo, travel bans and international arrest warrants. Countries or entities, such as the European Union and the UN, could refuse to ratify agreements with Israel until it ended its settlement enterprise, he said.
The UN General Assembly could ask the International Court of Justice at The Hague for an advisory opinion on the “legality of the occupation,” Lynk said.