A team of researchers from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations warned Thursday that Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian territories violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime. The Council said that, being a war crime, Israel’s policy falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (TPI), so it has demanded the suspension of such policies “without conditions” and the “immediate withdrawal” of all existing settlements.
“Israel should, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, end all settlement policy without conditions,” reads the report of the research team, led by the French judge Christine Chanet.
“They should immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the statement continued.
The research team was created in March 2012 by the Human Rights Council of the UN to analyze Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem.
The Israeli government has refused to cooperate with the experts and is shielded itself by claiming that the Council has an unbalanced approach and that its settlement policy in the West Bank is justified by the Bible.
In preparing the report, the experts questioned more than 50 people who came to Jordan last November to testify about the confiscation of land, damage to their livelihoods – including olive trees – and attacks by Jewish settlers , the statement said.
“The mission believes that behind these attacks and the intimidation against Palestinians and their property is hidden an order to expel the local population from their lands and allow the expansion of settlements,” continues the report.
The settlements, according to UN experts, “are enabling progressive annexation preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and undermines the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupy territories and their violation, the report said, could be considered a war crime and enter therefore in the powers of the International Criminal Court.
Therefore, according to the report, the possible ratification of the Rome Statute, which governs the TPI, “could lead to a process of accountability for serious violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law and the right to justice for the victims. “
About 250 Jewish settlements have been established in the West Bank and East Jerusalem from since the military occupation of Israel in 1967. The settlements now hold an estimated population of 520,000 people, according to the UN report.
These settlements prevent Palestinian access to water resources and agricultural lands, continues the document. This past December, Palestine accused Israel of planning new “war crimes” by expanding settlements.
Following the decision of the General Assembly to recognize Palestine, Israel announced the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, two territories that otherwise would constitute the Gaza Strip, which is seen as part of the future Palestinian state.
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Contributed by Luis Miranda of The Real Agenda.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute.