On March 22, 2022, UN Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” Michael Lynk released his final report before ending his six-year term. As in previous reports, he parrots terror-linked NGOs and falsifies reality to accuse Israel of committing “apartheid.”
The following examples reflect just some of the many falsehoods and distortions peddled by Lynk:
Antisemitic Tropes and Offensive Rhetoric
Like his previous writings, Lynk’s paper is characterized by emotive language, designed to portray Israel as greedy and cartoonishly wicked. The reader is told that Israeli measures to prevent the smuggling of weapons and military materiel into Gaza constitute a “medieval military blockade,” and that Israel is a “covetous alien power” that must “abandon the fever-dream of settler-colonialism and recognize the freedom of the indigenous people.”
Designated terrorist organizations
In October 2021, Israel designated six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations over their ties to the internationally-designated terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Lynk claims that “The designation decisions were based on unsubstantiated links between these organizations and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, including alleged diversion of funds,” and that Israel has criminalized human rights and humanitarian work.
In January 2022, however, the Dutch government announced that it would cancel funding to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), one of the designated entities. This followed an 18-month long independent investigation that confirmed NGO Monitor research and revealed at least 34 UAWC employees from 2007 to the present were also PFLP-linked. The Dutch government’s July 2020 decision to commission the external investigation was prompted by the arrest of two senior UAWC officials for allegedly orchestrating an August 2019 bombing that murdered an Israeli teenager, Rina Schnerb.
Likewise, in January, Al-Haq – a Palestinian NGO cited uncritically by Lynk, and one of those designated over its PFLP ties – revealed that the EU froze its funding in May 2021 after reviewing information provided by the Israeli government linking the NGO to the PFLP.
Similarly, Israeli media reported in February that, following a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, “the German and Israeli foreign ministries will jointly consider ways to continue funding projects in the territories without the money going to six Palestinian organizations that Israel outlawed as terrorist groups.”
Lynk cites two of the six – Addameer and Al-Haq – to “prove” that Israel is perpetrating “apartheid.”
Lynk excoriates Israel for its security measures surrounding Gaza, labeling it a “medieval military blockade.”
This is disingenuous and de-contextualized rhetoric. Firstly, Lynk ignores the terrorist organizations ruling and operating in Gaza, and the two decades of increasing rocket fire that they have directed at Israeli population centers – clear war crimes. No honest assessment of Israeli policy can whitewash the threat that Gaza-based terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad pose to Israeli citizens.
Secondly, Lynk appears to be unaware of the UN’s 2011 Palmer Report, which found that “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
Lastly, Lynk makes only perfunctory note of the fact that Gaza shares a border with Egypt, meaning that Israel does not control all passage in and out of the territory.
Invented legal standards
Lynk continues to promote invented international law standards regarding the law of occupation. He states:
“By their very nature, occupations are required to be built with wood, not concrete. Accordingly, Israel’s occupation must be temporary, it must be short-term, it is prohibited from annexing even a millimeter of occupied territory, any changes to the occupied territory must be as minimal as possible, it must comply fully with international law and United Nations resolutions, and it must cooperate in good faith with the Palestinian leadership to completely end the occupation and realize a genuine two state solution.”
Contrary to Lynk’s claims, occupation is not illegal, nor is its duration proscribed under international humanitarian law (IHL). Article 6(3) of Geneva IV, however, limits the applicability of certain provisions of the Convention in occupied territory to one year after the ‘close of military operations’:
In the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations; however, the Occupying Power shall be bound, for the duration of the occupation, to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory, by the provisions of the following Articles of the present Convention: 1 to 12, 27, 29 to 34, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 59, 61 to 77, 143.
In the absence of an IHL rule prohibiting prolonged occupation, Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, as well as UN rapporteurs, have sought to redefine the legal status of the West Bank from “occupation” to a situation of apartheid. Merging a discourse of “prolonged occupation” with allegations of apartheid began in the 1980s, coalescing further during preparations for the discredited UN Durban conference in 2001 and, following sustained advocacy by John Dugard and Richard Falk, Lynk has now taken up this narrative in his report.
Regarding the apartheid slander, Lynk relies on the invented definition proffered by Amnesty in its February 2022 report. See NGO Monitor’s Analyzing Amnesty’s Antisemitic Apartheid Attack, False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimize the Jewish State, and Neo-Orientalism: Deconstructing claims of apartheid in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for more information on how Amnesty and other NGOs manipulate the definition of apartheid to target Israel.
The report takes artistic license with Israeli history, claiming that “Since the beginning of its occupation in June 1967, Israel’s rule over the Palestinian territory has been epitomized by … core features.” These are alleged to include “the establishment of designed-to-be irreversible ‘facts-on-the-ground:’ the creation of 300 civilian settlements, with 700,000 Jewish settlers, meant to demographically engineer an unlawful sovereignty claim through the annexation of the occupied territory while simultaneously thwarting the Palestinians’ right to self-determination” (emphasis added).
This assertion assumes that the legal status of West Bank is sovereign Palestinian territory. This is not the case. Objectively, there is no existing Palestinian state and there has never been one. Sovereignty over West Bank territory has been in abeyance since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Lynk ignores these facts and the role played by Arab states and Palestinian leaders in this territorial dispute that has given rise to decades of conflict. He also ignores the existence of the Oslo Accords (mutually agreed to between Israel and the PLO and witnessed by the international community) and that Israel has engaged in decades of negotiations with the Palestinians, in which Israel agreed to cede territory to the Palestinians and uproot Israelis living in those areas, but each offer was rejected by the Palestinians without providing any counter-proposals.
In 2005, absent an agreement with Palestinian authorities, the Israeli government unilaterally and, in some cases, forcibly evacuated all Israeli citizens from Gaza, and dismantled four Israeli West Bank settlements, completely removing Jewish residents from them. Lynk erases these facts from his reporting.
Inventing Israeli policy
Lynk’s assertion that “Israel assigns, or withholds… rights and conditions on the basis of ethnic and national identity” is false. Differential treatment of Israelis and Palestinians under Israeli law is not rooted in ethnic discrimination, but rather the differentiation between citizens and non-citizens.
Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy greater freedom of movement in the West Bank than Israeli Jews, entering PA-controlled Area A to study, shop, purchase real estate, and for recreation. By contrast, Israeli law does not permit Israeli Jews to enter these areas, but this to protect their security rather than to segregate them on racial grounds. In several instances, local mobs have attacked Israeli Jews who have entered Area A.