Jewish Settlements Violate Geneva Convention, says United Nations Human Rights Council

The body calls for an immediate withdrawal of all existing settlements occupying Palestinian territory.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 31, 2013

A team of researchers from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations warned Thursday that Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian territories violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime. The Council said that, being a war crime, Israel’s policy falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (TPI), so it has demanded the suspension of such policies “without conditions” and the “immediate withdrawal” of all existing settlements.

“Israel should, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, end all settlement policy without conditions,” reads the report of the research team, led by the French judge Christine Chanet.

“They should immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the statement continued.

The research team was created in March 2012 by the Human Rights Council of the UN to analyze Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem.

The Israeli government has refused to cooperate with the experts and is shielded itself by claiming that the Council has an unbalanced approach and that its settlement policy in the West Bank is justified by the Bible.

In preparing the report, the experts questioned more than 50 people who came to Jordan last November to testify about the confiscation of land, damage to their livelihoods – including olive trees – and attacks by Jewish settlers , the statement said.

“The mission believes that behind these attacks and the intimidation against Palestinians and their property is hidden an order to expel the local population from their lands and allow the expansion of settlements,” continues the report.

The settlements, according to UN experts, “are enabling progressive annexation preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and undermines the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupy territories and their violation, the report said, could be considered a war crime and enter therefore in the powers of the International Criminal Court.

Therefore, according to the report, the possible ratification of the Rome Statute, which governs the TPI, “could lead to a process of accountability for serious violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law and the right to justice for the victims. ”

About 250 Jewish settlements have been established in the West Bank and East Jerusalem from since the military occupation of Israel in 1967. The settlements now hold an estimated population of 520,000 people, according to the UN report.

These settlements prevent Palestinian access to water resources and agricultural lands, continues the document. This past December, Palestine accused Israel of planning new “war crimes” by expanding settlements.

Following the decision of the General Assembly to recognize Palestine, Israel announced the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, two territories that otherwise would constitute the Gaza Strip, which is seen as part of the future Palestinian state.

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Construction of illegal Jewish settlements exploded under Netanyahu

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 22, 2013

Less than a week before the elections in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a clear favorite, the organization Peace Now has published a report which reports a record growth in construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories during the current term.

The publication of this information coincides with the announcement of new tenders in settlements by the Israeli Housing Ministry. Nearly 200 residential units have gone out to tender, 89 of them in Kiryat Arba, a settlement near Hebron, in the heart of the West Bank, as published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

Announcements of new colonies that the international community considers illegal occur in a context of increasing isolation in the world by the Israeli Prime Minister

A day after this information came to light, it has also been made public that U.S. President Barack Obama continues to increase his disapproval of Israel’s policies regarding the construction of the settlements and the way Netanyahu has conducted the country’s affairs.

Obama believes that such actions are leading the country to the abyss, mainly due to the continued expansion of settlements. There is, however, little chance that the new data published by Peace Now have a significant impact on the Israeli election race, since the relationship with the Palestinians is a matter of little importance in the campaign.

The Peace Now report, which follows closely the evolution of settlements indicates that Israel’s Executive approved 6676 housing units in the Palestinian territories in 2012.

In 2011, Netanyahu approved 1607 and only a few hundred in 2010, the year when Netanyahu launched a moratorium under U.S. pressure. Up to 40% of new construction that began last year occurred in isolated colonies, located east of the Israeli security wall.

“The policies and actions of Netanyahu in the West Bank and East Jerusalem reveal a clear intention to use the settlements to torpedo and render impossible the realistic option of the two States — Palestinian and Israeli –” says Peace Now in his paper.

Together with Peace Now, both Washington and the European Union consider that the settlement expansion threatens the territorial continuity and even the viability of a future Palestinian state.

More than half a million Israeli settlers live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The calls for peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis have remained static for at least two years. The Palestinians refuse to sit at the negotiating table until Israel decides to curb the construction of  settlements.

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