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Author: 
STEPHANIE NEBEHAY | REUTERS
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-06-30 01:39

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in
Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, said its separate
intent to forcibly transfer four Palestinian residents of East
Jerusalem to the West Bank could constitute a war crime.In addition
to the planned demolitions in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem, Israel
is considering revoking the residency permits of four Palestinians, all
current or former members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and
long-time residents of the city, he said."These actions, if carried
out, would violate international law, with certain actions potentially
amounting to war crimes under international humanitarian law," Falk
said.A local planning commission has approved the plan to destroy
the homes, as part of the King's Garden project, but it will need
additional ratification which could take months, Israeli officials have
said.City spokesman Stephan Miller has said the project was intended
"to improve the quality of life" in Silwan and that a park and public
complex slated to be built in the area would be used by Arabs and Jews
alike."International law does not allow Israel to bulldoze
Palestinians homes to make space for the Mayor's project to build a
garden, or anything else," said Falk.Israel drew US anger in March,
when it announced during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden a plan to
build 1,600 homes for Jews in an area of the occupied West Bank it
considers part of Jerusalem. Israel assured Washington building at the
Ramat Shlomo settlement site would not begin for at least two years.The
four Palestinians are members of Hamas, a group seen by Israel and the
West as a terrorist organization which calls for Israel's destruction."Forcibly
transferring these individuals would constitute serious violations of
Israel's legal obligations. At the same time, the current threats should
be viewed as part of a larger, extremely worrying pattern of Israeli
efforts to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem — all of which are
illegal under international law," Falk said.On Sept. 6, the Israeli
High Court of Justice is scheduled to consider their case, according to
Falk.He named them as Muhammad Abu-Teir, Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad
Totah and Khaled Abu Arafeh. Araheh is a former Hamas Cabinet minister
and the other three were lawmakers elected in 2006."Israel, as an
occupying power, is prohibited from transferring civilian persons from
East Jerusalem and is prohibited from forcing Palestinians to swear
allegiance or otherwise affirm their loyalty to the State of Israel," he
said.Israel has sought to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem,
Falk said. Means included denying them permission to construct homes,
declaring their homes illegal, forcibly removing families and then
destroying their homes — "all to make way for Israeli settlements".Falk,
who is Jewish, was detained and turned back from Israel while trying to
carry out an official UN mission to Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem
in Dec. 2008. The deportation was denounced by UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon.He has served in the independent post since May 2008,
reporting to the UN Human Rights Council. Critics say that the 47-member
state forum unfairly singles out Israeli violations.

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