The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has warned that Israel is speeding up implementation of settlement building schemes in the occupied Palestinian territories in a flagrant breach of international law.
In a weekly report on Saturday, the PLO National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements said these plans, which also flout international legitimacy resolutions, fall within the framework of the so-called peace proposal by US President Donald Trump aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.
The report, carried by Syria's official news agency, SANA, said Tel Aviv had just announced a new settlement plan to occupy the lands surrounding al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the occupied West Bank.
This is a step aimed at consolidating the “Israeli apartheid system” and confiscating the Palestinians' right of self-determination in a time that the whole world is preoccupied with confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers, supported by tens of thousands of soldiers, have already occupied significant parts of al-Khalil's city center. They harass the Palestinians in the city on an almost daily basis.
The Israeli regime is criticized for its Judaization activities at the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs. Revered by both Muslims and Jews, the holy site complex is believed to mark the burial sites of Prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Following a massacre of Palestinian worshipers by an extremist settler in 1994, the complex was divided between Muslim and Jewish worshipers. However, the Israeli military almost regularly closes the mosque to Muslim worshipers and allows extremist settlers to enter the whole sacred site to observe their rituals.
According to the PLO report, Israeli authorities have also announced another plan to annex more areas in the West Bank on July 1.
What US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week, the report added, clearly reaffirmed Washington's support for Tel Aviv's annexation plans. Fixing July 1 as the date for implementing the plan clearly showed an agreement between US and Israeli officials to implement the provisions of Trump's extensively-condemned “Deal of the Century.”
Such a move by Washington and Tel Aviv is an attempt to legalize "the policy of bullying and law of the jungle" that have become, under Trump, a significant part of the US foreign policy, the PLO emphasized.
All Palestinian groups have unanimously rejected the deal, officially known as the so-called Peace to Prosperity, which gives Jerusalem al-Quds the status of “Israel’s undivided capital” and authorizes further Israeli annexations in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
Trump’s deal, which was formally unveiled in late January, gave rise to a storm of indignation and opposition among people and politicians as well as international organizations right from the start.
The PLO report also pointed out that the UN Special Coordinator for Middle East, Nikolai Mladinov, had warned that any possible annexation of Palestinian lands to the Israeli regime would be a destructive hit to the project of establishing an independent Palestinian state.
Most of the UN Security Council's member states have recently reiterated their rejection of the Israeli plans and of any plans that undermine establishing a Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, it further said.
Elsewhere in the report, the PLO noted that Israeli authorities have demolished two Palestinian facilities in Sebastia and Burqa villages, northwest of Nablus, as well as a house in al-Khalil, adding that the regime had already delivered warnings for the demolition of four houses in Bethlehem.
It also warned that attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the villages and towns of the West Bank had escalated under the protection of Israeli forces.
Also on Saturday, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem said in an official report that since the outbreak of the contagious disease in the occupied territories, the Israeli settlers have ramped up their assaults with full support from the Tel Aviv regime.
B’Tselem said during the first three weeks of the current month only at least 23 attacks by settlers had been documented compared to 23 such incidents throughout March, adding that 11 of these attacks were conducted after mid-March, when strict restrictions on movement and social gatherings were imposed.
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