UN inquiry says Israel must remove settlers



Stephanie Nebehay | Reuters

Published — Thursday 31 January 2013

Last update 4 February 2013 11:43 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Stephanie Nebehay | Reuters
GENEVA: UN human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.
A three-member UN panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.
“Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights,” Christine Chanet, a French judge who led the UN inquiry, told a news conference.
The settlements contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations report said.
“To transfer its own population into an occupied territory is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to self-determination,” Chanet said.
All UN member states must comply with their duty under international law on the settlements, she said. “We have highlighted states’ responsibility because the facts we denounce are known. The problem is nobody is doing anything about it.”
In December, the Palestinians accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit what they said were further war crimes by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto UN recognition of statehood, and said Israel must be held accountable.
Israel has not cooperated with the probe set up by the Human Rights Council last March to examine the impact of settlements in the territory, including East Jerusalem. Israel says the forum has an inherent bias against it and defends its settlement policy by citing historical and Biblical links to the West Bank.
Israel’s foreign ministry swiftly rejected the report as “counterproductive and unfortunate.” Palestinians welcomed the report saying it vindicated their struggle against Israel.
“The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without pre-conditions. Counterproductive measures — such as the report before us, will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Israel’s Yigal Palmor said.
But Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official, told Reuters in Ramallah: “This is incredible. We are extremely heartened by this principled and candid assessment of Israeli violations.”
The independent UN investigators interviewed more than 50 people who came to Jordan in November to testify about confiscated land, damage to their livelihoods including olive trees, and violence by Jewish settlers, according to the report.
“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” it said.

'Creeping annexation'
About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been established since 1967 and they hold an estimated 520,000 settlers, according to the UN report. The settlements impede Palestinian access to water and farmland.
The settlements were “leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” it said.
Chanet said firms working in the territories must uphold human rights. France’s Veolia, which built Jerusalem’s light rail linking the western side of the city to the eastern side annexed by Israel after the 1967 war, won a case brought against it in a Nanterre court, whose ruling that it had not violated the Geneva Conventions is now on appeal, she said.
After the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians status at the world body, Israel said it would build 3,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — areas Palestinians wanted for a future state, along with the Gaza Strip.
“I think that maybe it will help in the negotiation just to see that now, and especially when Palestine has been recognized as a state, things might change. Maybe, we hope. And now there is a new government in Israel,” Chanet said.
“So things are moving. So we hope that our report will be in the middle of this movement.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Grand Mufti and Chairman of the Council of Senior Scholarships Sheikh Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Asheikh called on astronomers questioning the accuracy of prayer timings in the Umm Al-Qura calendar to refrain from confusing people, and confirmed t...
JEDDAH: Turkey’s security agencies have arrested 15,000 members of the Daesh terrorist organization at its airports and border crossings, a diplomat said here recently.The Daesh members had attempted to enter Turkey territory, said Fikrat Ozar, consu...
JEDDAH: The Saudi government has welcomed the Gulf Cooperation Council’s proposals to fight terrorist groups that are attempting to undermine the region’s security and social fabric.This comes in the wake of an extraordinary meeting held by the GCC’s...
JEDDAH: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) is racing against the clock to unravel the circumstances surrounding the enrollment of 107,000 beneficiaries on the lists of social insurance without legal entitlements. These beneficiaries are...
MADINAH: Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah and chairperson of the board of directors of the Takaful Welfare Society for Orphan Care in Madinah, has inaugurated a project to reconstruct houses of orphans.According to the Takaful program, 1...
RIYADH: The Kingdom on Tuesday announced that vaccination against meningitis is mandatory for all local and international Haj pilgrims, while flu shots are recommended for their own safety.Health Ministry Spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News...
MAKKAH: A mentally-ill Turkish man killed a Sudanese patient in the Makkah Mental Health Hospital of King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Al-Zahir, a news website has reported, quoting Makkah police.The Turkish patient, in his 50s, confronted the Sudanese whe...
RIYADH: Mohammed Ali Al-Husseini, secretary-general of the Arab Muslim Council, based in Lebanon, said here recently that Saudi Arabia enjoys the trust of the international community as the first reference for the Muslim world.The Lebanese Shiite lea...
RIYADH: The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) is working closely with the Ministry of Transportation, the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) and the Director-General of Military Surveying t...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has received requests from 14 governmental agencies that their employees be sent abroad for studies in different specialities. The request is to include the employees as part of the third phase of Custodian of the Tw...
RIYADH: Argentina enjoys excellent ties with Saudi Arabia as it marks its 199th Independence Day anniversary on July 9, according to Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda.“Excellent bilateral ties bind the two countries as Argentina holds its 199th Independe...
JEDDAH/KUWAIT CITY: Three Saudi brothers have been arrested in connection with the suicide bombing of a mosque in Kuwait last month, the Saudi and Kuwaiti authorities said on Tuesday. Daesh owned up the attack during Friday prayers, which killed 27...
MAKKAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman performed funeral prayers for Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, the deceased governor of the Northern Borders Province, at the Grand Mosque on Sunday night.Those present included Makkah G...
JEDDAH: More than 14 million worshippers and pilgrims visited Makkah in the first 16 days of Ramadan, a 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year.These figures were unveiled at a meeting of the Central Haj Committee, chaired by Makkah...
KUWAIT: Kuwait has detained 26 people suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque last month that killed 27 people, a local daily reported on Monday, quoting the public prosecutor.The June 26 attack by Daesh jolted Kuwait, raisin...

Stay Connected

Facebook