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Palestine demands international criminal investigation into Israeli settlements

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)
The file photo shows a new Israeli housing project in the West Bank settlement of Naale, January 1, 2019. (By The Associated Press)

Palestine has demanded an immediate international criminal investigation into the Tel Aviv regime’s policy of settlement expansion and expropriation of Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates announced in a statement on Sunday that the ongoing settlement expansion at the expense of Palestinian land erodes the credibility of the United Nations and its relevant institutions, and points to the world body’s failure to implement Security Council Resolution 2334.

The statement added that this expansionist behavior is in sync with public statements of Israeli officials and leaders concerning their refusal to go back to the pre-1967 borders, and a demand to impose Israeli law on settlements in the occupied West Bank, the latest of which was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the settlements if re-elected.

The ministry further noted that it will continue its contacts and discussions with the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding Israel’s push to construct more settler units in various parts of the West Bank, particularly the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds and its surrounding areas, to accommodate a large number of Jews there and change the demographic makeup in the area.

The statement then shed light on the ongoing linkage of Israeli settlement blocs to each other, warning that such a practice would undermine any chance for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967.

On Saturday, Israel's so-called Civil Administration's High Planning Committee approved the construction of 770 new housing units at Beitar Illit settlement, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.

The new units are planned to be built on privately owned land in the Palestinian villages of Nahalin and Wadi Fukin in addition to Husan town, located nine kilometers west of Bethlehem.

In February, Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO opposing Tel Aviv’s settlement expansion activities, published a new map that illustrated an “accelerated, intensifying chain of new facts on the ground in the most historically contested and politically sensitive part of Jerusalem [al-Quds]: the Old City and adjacent ring of Palestinian neighborhoods,” which help reinforcement of settlement plans.

The NGO pointed to a number of Israeli-sponsored settlement campaigns inside Palestinian neighborhoods, including “settler initiated evictions of Palestinians, takeovers of their homes, and the expansion of settler compounds,” in addition to the use of the so-called “touristic settlement sites” as “key points” contributing to the campaigns.

Ir Amim said the supposed tourism and archaeology projects “assume a central role in Israeli settlement policy.”

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

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