The UN's top human rights body has appointed three independent experts to conduct a fact-finding mission on how Israel's West Bank settlements affect the Palestinians.
The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy-Lasserre, named three delegates to the panel on Friday evening.
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French judge Christine Chanet will lead the panel, which will also include Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir and Botswana judge Unity Dow.
Dupuy-Lasserre said their mission will be to look how the Israeli settlements impact "the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people."
Israel will not cooperate (Photo: Lowshot)
The Geneva-based 47-nation council passed a resolution in March to establish such a probe following a motion by the Palestinian Authority. Israel's ally the United States was the only member to vote against it. The UN considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law.
'UNHRC targeting Israel'
The council said that Israel's planned construction of new housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem "undermines the peace process and poses a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state."
Jerusalem condemned Friday's decision: "The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC. This fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
As the team will not be allowed access to Israeli settlements, they are likely to have to gather information from second-hand sources, including the media.
Even if the investigators conclude settlements violate human rights law, US opposition is likely to stymie any attempt to impose any punishment on Israel.
On Monday Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said that the acceleration of settlement building had "closed the book" on the feasibility of a two-state solution.
"The Palestinian position gets weaker and weaker through time and the Israelis get more and more of a fait accompli through their unlawful activities," he said.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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