The United Nations' first report on Israel's overall settlement policy describes it as a "creeping annexation" of territory that clearly violates the human rights of Palestinians, and calls for Israel to immediately stop further such construction.
The report's conclusions, revealed Thursday, are not legally binding, but they further inflame tensions between the U.N. Human Rights Council and Israel, and between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli officials immediately denounced the report, while Palestinians pointed to it as "proof of Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing" and its desire to undermine the possibility of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians also hinted that they could use the report as a basis for legal action toward a war crimes prosecution.
In its report to the 47-nation council, a panel of investigators said Israel is violating international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the treaties that establish the ground rules for what is considered humane during wartime.