U.N. human rights inquiry says Israel must remove settlers

GENEVA Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:30pm IST

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man pushes a shopping cart past a construction site in Gilo, a Jewish settlement that Israel erected on land it captured in the West Bank in a 1967 war and annexed unilaterally as part of its declared capital Jerusalem December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Files

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man pushes a shopping cart past a construction site in Gilo, a Jewish settlement that Israel erected on land it captured in the West Bank in a 1967 war and annexed unilaterally as part of its declared capital Jerusalem December 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Files

Related Topics

GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices violated international law.

"Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT (occupied Palestinian territories)," said a report by the inquiry led by French judge Christine Chanet.

The settlements contravene the 1949 Geneva Conventions forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory, which could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it said.

In December, the Palestinians accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit further "war crimes" by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto U.N. recognition of statehood and warned that Jerusalem must be held accountable.

Israel has not cooperated with the probe set up by the Human Rights Council last March to examine the impact of settlements in the territory, including East Jerusalem. Israel says the forum has an inherent bias against it and defends its settlement policy by citing historical and Biblical links to the West Bank.

The independent U.N. investigators interviewed more than 50 people who came to Jordan in November to testify about confiscated land, damage to their livelihoods including olive trees, and violence by Jewish settlers, according to the report.

"The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand," it said.

"CREEPING ANNEXATION"

About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been established since 1967 and they hold an estimated 520,000 settlers, according to the U.N. report. The settlements impede Palestinian access to water resources and agricultural lands, it said.

The settlements were "leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination," it said.

After the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians status at the world body, Israel said it would build 3,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - areas Palestinians wanted for a future state, along with the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. human rights inquiry said that the International Criminal Court had jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer by the occupying power of its own population into the territory.

"Ratification of the (Rome) Statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims," the U.N. report said, referring to the treaty setting up the Hague-based U.N. tribunal which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jon Boyle)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Korean Boat Tragedy

Family members of a missing passenger onboard the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, look at the sea as they wait for news from a rescue team, at a port in Jindo April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sunken Korea ferry relatives give DNA swabs to help identify dead

Relatives of some of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as a rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Everest Tragedy

Everest Tragedy

Death toll climbs in worst tragedy on Everest  Full Article 

Missing Plane

Missing Plane

Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Putin welcomes new NATO head, says better ties with West possible  Full Article 

Japan Military

Japan Military

Japan expands army footprint for first time in 40 years, risks angering China  Full Article 

Journalists Released

Journalists Released

Kidnapped French journalists found on Turkey's Syrian border   Full Article 

Papal Message

Papal Message

Pope Good Friday service underscores plight of the suffering.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage