UN rights chief says settlement expansion a war crime, prevents Palestinian state

UN rights chief says settlement expansion a war crime, prevents Palestinian state
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Fecha de publicación: 
8 March 2024
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The United Nations’ human rights chief said Friday that Israeli settlements in the West Bank have expanded by a record amount and risk eliminating any practical possibility of a Palestinian state.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said that the growth of Israeli settlements amounted to the transfer by Israel of its own population, which he reiterated was a war crime. The US Biden administration said last month the settlements were “inconsistent” with international law after Israel announced new housing plans in the West Bank.

“Settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State,” Turk said in a statement accompanying the report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in late March.

The 16-page report, based on the UN’s own monitoring as well as other sources, documented 24,300 new Israeli housing units in the West Bank during a one-year period through to the end of October 2023, which it said was the highest on record since monitoring began in 2017.

It also said there had been a dramatic increase in the intensity, severity and regularity of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank by both extremist settlers and the IDF, particularly since the deadly Hamas onslaught on Israel on October 7, which saw Hamas terrorists kill about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 253 others.

Since then, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or by settlers, it said. Most have been killed during violent clashes with Israeli forces.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said that the report should have included the deaths of 36 Israelis in terror attacks carried out by Palestinians in the West Bank in 2023. “Human rights are universal, yet Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism are ignored by the Office [of the High Commissioner] time and time again,” it said in a statement.

Turk’s report noted that the policies of Israel’s government, which is the most right-wing in the country’s history and includes religious nationalists with close ties to settlers, appeared aligned to an “unprecedented extent” with the goals of the Israeli settler movement.

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