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European Parliament urges end to Israel's settlement activities, occupation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view shows construction in the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev (foreground), in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), January 15, 2016. ©AFP

A delegation of the European Parliament (EP) for relations with Palestine has called for an immediate end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories as well as the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and demolition of Palestinian homes.

Denouncing Israeli “occupation policies” in a press statement, the delegation chairwoman, Martina Anderson, said, “The expansion of settlements, demolitions, forcible transfers and evictions must stop immediately,” Palestinian media reported on Saturday.

“Palestinians need hope, freedom and human rights. The way to these is by ending the occupation,” the statement said.

The delegation, which was on a four-day official visit to the occupied West Bank, also slammed the Israeli regime for the increasing number of demolitions of humanitarian structures financed by the European Union.

“People are losing their homes in the cold and the rain. Israeli policies violate international law and show disrespect for the EU, Israel's biggest trade partner,” Anderson said.

She added that Israeli authorities have recently stepped up the destruction of EU-funded humanitarian aid structures in an apparent retaliation for the European Union’s decision to label products made in settlements illegally built by the Israeli regime on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Under the punitive measures that the EU has been enforcing since November 2015, notifications are attached to the products, informing that they had been made in settlements built by Tel Aviv on the land it occupied in 1967 as the bloc maintains its opposition to Tel Aviv's expansionist policies.

Palestinian boys walk past the remains of their family's dwelling, which was funded by the EU's humanitarian arm, after it was demolished by Israeli forces, near the occupied West Bank village of al-Eizariya on January 21, 2016. ©Reuters

However, Israel keeps a defiant stance on the issue of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands as it refuses to freeze settlement expansion.

Palestinian Bedouins have particularly been hit hard by the Israeli demolitions, said the statement.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Members of the European Parliament also voiced concern at the Israeli regime’s use of administrative detention, which is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Tel Aviv to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods.

They pointed to the “particularly alarming” case of Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq who has been on hunger strike under Israel's detention since last November.

The 33-year-old, who has lost the ability to speak due to the hunger strike, has said he will continue the strike until “martyrdom or freedom.”

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