Stop Israeli Settlements in Occupied West Bank: Palestinian President, Observer to UN

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A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in east Jerusalem on March 19, 2014 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour appealed to the United Nations on Thursday regarding Israel’s recent approval of 463 new settlement units across the occupied West Bank, while the Palestinian presidency urged a UN resolution be formulated in order to force Israel to halt its settlement expansions.

According to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee on Wednesday validated plans for 20 housing units in the settlement of Givat Zeev, 30 in Bet Arye, while 179 housing units were retroactively approved in Ofarim. The group added that plans for 234 units in the settlement of Elqana were being discussed for depositing.

Mansour condemned the recent settlement approvals in a statement, highlighting that Israel’s settlement expansion which has continually accelerated along with the demolition of Palestinian homes confirms Israel’s “true intentions to maintain its occupation of Palestine and to construct and expand illegal settlements and annex Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Mansour also underscored the international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, noting that despite the condemnations nothing has been done to halt their construction. Mansour added that the lack of any international action on the issue has served to encourage Israel’s violations of international law.

“The international community must act responsibly and take serious and bold action aimed at compelling Israel to immediately cease its crimes and violations once and for all before it is too late,” the statement read, adding that global leaders must make concerted efforts to end the occupation in order for Palestine to have its own state on pre-1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

According to Mansour, the statement was the 594th such statement to be made to the UN demanding action against Israeli violations of international law since September 2000, noting that the UN now has a clear record of all crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people over the past 16 years.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Palestinian presidency Abu Rudeineh released a statement announcing that the Palestinian leadership in coordination with the Arab League and a group of Arab ministers were making contacts at the international level in order to push an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss formulating a resolution that could stop settlement building on Palestinian territory.

“The US warning over the settlement expansion in Palestinian territories alone is not enough,” Rudeineh said. “What is required is an actual movement that would force the Israeli government to stop its settlement activities, which threaten to undermine regional and international efforts aiming to resume the peace process.”

The statement came a day after the European Union condemned Israel’s recent settlement activitiesand urged authorities to freeze any expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank, highlighting that since January 2016 Israeli authorities have promoted or retroactively legalized 2,706 additional units for Israeli settlements.

Israel has come under harsh criticism for a spike in illegal settlement activity in recent months, with plans for thousands of housing units moving forward in various stages in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have publicly announced their support for plans aimed to annex the entirety of Area C.

While members of the international community rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted farther to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

 

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