The Israeli government’s announcement that it is to expand settlements in the West Bank in response to the UN vote on Palestinian statehood violates human rights and international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
“Settlement construction is the cause of forced displacement, a myriad of human rights violations and is a flagrant violation of international law. Israel must immediately halt all construction of settlements and related infrastructure as a first step towards removing all settlers from the occupied territories,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.
“This announcement sends a strong signal to the world that the current Israeli government has no respect for human rights and international law. Building settlements violates the rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and is prohibited in all circumstances.”
Israel said on Friday 30 November that it had authorized an additional 3,000 housing units to build or expand settlements in unidentified locations in the occupied West Bank. The announcement came a day after Palestine was recognized as a non-member observer state of the United Nations (UN) by a vote at the UN General Assembly in New York. According to reports, some other proposals for expansions will be in a strategic area known as E1 which lies between East Jerusalem and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
The Israeli army already has plans to forcibly evict and transfer 20 Palestinian communities – some 2,300 people who are mostly Jahalin Bedouin – from their homes in E1 and the area of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc. Israeli authorities have not consulted with the communities and the residents oppose the move. The majority of houses and structures in these communities have demolition orders.
The Jahalin have been displaced numerous times since 1948 when they became refugees from their lands which lie in what became the State of Israel.
Construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank has continued throughout 2012. Most recently, on 6 November 2012, the Ministry of Housing tendered for the construction of 1,285 units in East Jerusalem and the settlement of Ariel, in the northern West Bank.