Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

UN rights chief: Israeli settlements expand by record amount

  • US says settlements inconsistent with international law
  • Israel announced new housing plans
Update : 09 Mar 2024, 10:08 AM

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have expanded by a record amount and risk eliminating any practical possibly of a Palestinian state, the UN human rights chief said on Friday.

The United Nations 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 occupied 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.

Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said that the report should have included the deaths of 36 Israelis 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.

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 occupied West Bank during a one-year period through to end-October 2023, which it said was the highest on record since monitoring began in 2017.

Rising violence

It also said there had been a dramatic increase in the intensity, severity and regularity of both Israeli settler and state violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, particularly since the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.

Since then, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or by settlers, it said.

Israel, which captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, claims a biblical birthright to the land where settlements are expanding. Its military says it is conducting counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank and is targeting suspected fighters.

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.

It has documented cases of settlers wearing full or partial Israeli army uniforms and carrying army rifles while harassing or attacking Palestinians, in a blurring of the lines between them. Sometimes they were shot at point-blank range, it said.

The five-month-old Gaza war has put a renewed focus on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as foreseen by the Oslo accords from the early 1990s.

But there has been little progress on achieving Palestinian statehood since then, with the expansion of settlements being one of the obstacles.

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