European countries, UN denounce expansion of Israeli settlements in West Bank


Rabat – The five largest European nations have issued a statement urging Israel to end its plans for illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. The foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK released the statement on May 6, in which they “urged” Israel to halt its settlement plans. .

The five nations described the Israeli plans as “illegal under international law” and warned that further expansion into the occupied West Bank territories “would threaten prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“If implemented,” the statement warned, “the decision to advance the settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will further harm the prospects for a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital. both Israel and a Palestinian state. . “

Surrounding the Palestinians

The brief statement, posted on the websites of the countries’ foreign ministries, called on Israel to “reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of ​​the occupied West Bank.”

On April 7, Israeli authorities approved plans for massive construction efforts in Har Homa, a small hilltop town in East Jerusalem. The area, called “Jabal Abu Ghneim” by indigenous Palestinians, already includes an illegal Israeli settlement, with the government planning to expand the existing settlement by 540 more illegal dwellings.

The expansion of the Har Homa settlement effectively links the already illegal housing units with those in Gilo, encircling the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa.

Also read: Israel rushes to build settlements ahead of Biden’s presidency

Since 1967, the State of Israel has gradually reduced the area of ​​the neighborhood, which is home to more than 5,000 Palestinians. With the approved plans for new construction, the neighborhood will be completely surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, cutting it off from the rest of the occupied territories.

The Israeli expansion plan “undermines efforts to restore confidence between the parties, following the positive resumption of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation,” the five nations stressed in their statement opposing the pursuit of the illegal construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

UN warns of possible war crimes

Israel’s illegal expansion plans are also having an impact on families in northeast Jerusalem, the UN warned on May 7.

“For four of these families, the risk is imminent,” warned Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Local families “face a risk of forced eviction due to a legal challenge by the settler organization Nahalat Shimon,” Colville said in his press briefing.

If Israel carries out forced evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, it “would violate Israel’s obligations under international law,” the UN said. Colville highlighted how 218 Palestinian families are facing eviction cases, trying to evict them from their family homes.

Also read: UN: World opposes Israel amid record demolition, settlement approvals

The UN spokesperson highlighted Israel’s clear plans to expand into the Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem. “In practice, the implementation of these laws facilitates the transfer by Israel of its population to occupied East Jerusalem,” Colville said. He described Israel’s efforts as “the transfer of part of the civilian population from an occupying power into the territory it occupies.”

Israeli practice in the occupied West Bank territories is “prohibited by international humanitarian law and may constitute a war crime,” Colvile stressed.

“In view of the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah in recent days, we wish to stress that East Jerusalem is still part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” Colville said, adding that in these territories “international humanitarian law applies”.

“We call on Israel to immediately end all forced evictions, including those of Sheikh Jarrah,” Colville said during his OHCHR press briefing, while “calling” on Israel to end the local use of the force and limitations of freedom of expression forced displacement.

What will be the effect of the protests of the European powers and the UN human rights office remains to be seen. Israel continues to ignore international law and UN resolutions while claiming that anti-Semitism contributes to a global bias against the continued progression of Israeli settler colonialism.

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