Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called on the administration of new US President Joe Biden to make good on its opposition to Israel’s settlement expansion across the occupied West Bank and take concrete measures to tackle the expansionism.
Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday, Shtayyeh said the uptick in Israeli settlement construction activities amid the global coronavirus pandemic undermines international efforts to keep alive the prospect for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
He also condemned Israeli authorities’ decision to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, calling on international human rights organizations to urgently intervene to stop the eviction.
The senior Palestinian official then urged world states to condemn the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation plans, and compel Israel to stop them immediately.
Last October, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem al-Quds ruled to evict 12 of the 24 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and to give their homes to Israeli settlers.
The court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) in fees to cover the settlers’ legal expenses.
The families were given 30 days to file an appeal, but most expressed little hope for a ruling in their favor, saying the Israeli judiciary is no more than an instrument of the Israeli occupation policy of forcibly displacing and erasing the Palestinian presence in al-Quds.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
According to human rights groups, acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property are a daily occurrence throughout the occupied West Bank.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Shtayyeh praised the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to open a war crimes investigation in the occupied Palestinian territories, stating that ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda courageously took the step despite constant challenges.
He noted that the Palestinian Authority will spare no efforts in its cooperation with the ICC, and will provide The Hague-based organization with all necessary documents and data to bring the perpetrators of crimes to account.
Bensouda said in a statement on March 3 that her inquiry will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor.”
The Palestinian Authority welcomed the prosecutor’s announcement.
It is “a long-awaited step that serves Palestine’s tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve,” the PA foreign ministry said in a statement.
Hamas resistance movement also praised the ICC’s move.
“We welcome the ICC decision to investigate Israeli occupation war crimes against our people. It is a step forward on the path of achieving justice for the victims of our people,” Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, told Reuters news agency.
“Our resistance is legitimate and it comes to defend our people. All international laws approve legitimate resistance,” Qassem noted.
Last month, the ICC confirmed that the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab–Israeli War were subject to its jurisdiction.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — during the six-day war in 1967. It later had to withdraw from Gaza.
Palestine was accepted as an ICC member in 2015, three years after signing the court's founding Rome Statute, based on its “observer state” status at the United Nations.