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UN human rights inquiry says Israel must remove settlers
Published Thursday 31/01/2013 (updated) 02/02/2013 16:46
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A laborer works atop a roof at a construction site in the Jewish
settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem.
(Reuters/Ronen Zvulun, File)

GENEVA (Reuters) -- UN human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

A three-member UN panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.

"Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights," Christine Chanet, a French judge who led the UN inquiry, told a news conference.

The settlements contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the United Nations report said.

"To transfer its own population into an occupied territory is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to self-determination," Chanet said.

In December, the PLO accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit what it said were further war crimes by expanding Jewish settlements after Palestine won de facto UN recognition of statehood, and said Israel must be held accountable.

Israel has not cooperated with the probe set up by the Human Rights Council last March to examine the impact of settlements in the territory, including East Jerusalem. Israel says the forum has an inherent bias against it and defends its settlement policy by citing historical and Biblical links to the West Bank.

Israel's foreign ministry swiftly rejected the report as "counterproductive and unfortunate". The Palestine Liberation Organization welcomed its "principled and candid" findings.

"The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without pre-conditions. Counterproductive measures -- such as the report before us, will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict," Israel's Yigal Palmor said.

"The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that."

But Hanan Ashrawi, a top PLO official told Reuters: "This is incredible. We are extremely heartened by this principled and candid assessment of Israeli violations...This report clearly states the Israel is not just violating the fourth Geneva Convention, but places Israel in liability to the Rome Statute under the jurisdiction of the ICC."

The independent UN investigators interviewed more than 50 people who came to Jordan in November to testify about confiscated land, damage to their livelihoods including olive trees, and violence by Jewish settlers, according to the report.

"The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand," it said.

'Creeping annexation'

About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been established since 1967 and they hold an estimated 520,000 settlers, according to the UN report. The settlements impede Palestinian access to water and farm lands.

The settlements were "leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination," it said.

Chanet said: "To maintain such a system of segregation you need strict police and army control. It means a lot of checkpoints, violation of freedom of movement, no access to natural resources, demolition of houses and sometimes even destroying the trees."

After the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians status at the world body, Israel said it would build 3,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem -- areas Palestinians wanted for a future state, along with the Gaza Strip.

The UN human rights inquiry said that the International Criminal Court had jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer by the occupying power of its own population into the territory.

Chanet, asked whether the violations constituted war crimes that could be tried at the Hague-based court, said: "These offenses are falling into the provision of article 8 of the ICC statutes. Article 8 of the ICC statute is in the chapter of war crimes, that is the answer."
1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
31/01/2013 12:46
More proof of the impotence and uselessness of the UN. The PA and Hamas also violate international law, but we don't see much of stink being made about them - probably because the world holds them to such low standards. This is why the PA and Hamas can not only arrest each others supporters and hold them without trial, but also arrest and beat Palestinian journalists, void freedom of speech, and encourage honor killings.

2 ) Carlos / USA
31/01/2013 14:32
I knew the UN could get something right! israel is a crime. I am taking action. I am boycotting all israeli products. I am especially boycotting Intel chips. None of my computers will have intel chips in them. I returned a Pepper to the supermarket when I found a sticker on the pepper that said product of israel. I got my money back and I complained about israeli war crimes to the cashier.

3 ) AKeenReader / UK
31/01/2013 15:10
So now it's in back and white and Palestinains should now proceed by procecuting Israel at the ICC. the sooner the better. Igonore what Israel & the US's view is.

4 ) Phil / UK
31/01/2013 15:10
Article 49 forbids the forced movement of aggressors population onto land it aggressively occupied. Israel wasn't the aggressor when they defeated the Jordanians and Pals in '67. Neither is Israel forcing any of its population to settle. They do so by choice.

But the true evil here is the hypocrisy of those who call Israel apartheid whilst demanding the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homes before there can be peace talks. What would they say if Israel demanded the same of Israeli Arabs?

5 ) Four / Sure
31/01/2013 15:30
- Surely a 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution (#181) has more weight
than a 2013 UN "human rights investigator's call," and the Arab States rejected it (& invaded the new Jewish state anyway), so just as
- Surely Israel can, and will, reject this new investigator's call, "to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all Jewish settlers, from the occupied Palestinian territories," which
- Surely have never been part of a Palestinian state, and
- Surely would threaten Israel's security !!!!

6 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
31/01/2013 17:05
Phil, may I suggest you read Ilan Pappe's "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine"?

7 ) Henri / France
31/01/2013 17:31
@Carlos: Stop using the Internet and mobile phones. Don't have IRM at the hospital. All of them involve Israeli patents. And what about the USSR settling millions of people in territories seized from Poland, Germany, Romania...after WW2? And the 20 millions refugees they expelled, killing ~ 2 million of them?

8 ) Ray / UK
31/01/2013 21:12
It would be amusing, if the subject wasn't so serious, to read the convoluted arguments of apologists like Phil and 'Four'. The former doesn't appear to understand that the force is applied to the occupied peoples, not to the rapacious population of the victors, and the latter has clearly never heard of, or choses to deliberately ignore, the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Palmach in 1948.

9 ) Phil / UK
31/01/2013 23:10
#6&8) So you are obviously happy with ethnic cleansing just as long as it is done by Arabs against Pals in Q8. Or Arabs against Jews in any ME country you care to mention. Or Turks against just about everyone that wasn't one of them. Its never difficult to expose the real racist motives of people like yourselves. And I have read enough revisionist crap to last me a lifetime, thank you Carol.

10 ) Outlier / USA
01/02/2013 00:05
I will say again - the Palestinians should negotiate while they still can. If they don't, settlements and fences will establish Palestine for them - complete with borders.

11 ) gabi / australia
01/02/2013 02:45
Phil - "revisionist crap" no less! By an Israeli historian. With no agenda other than to get the truth out there. But if you don't like Illan Pappe, what about Benny Morris? Or Shlomo Sand? Or Amos Oz. Shall I go on ? "Arabs against Jews in any Middle East country you care to mention" I care to mention Iran, a population of 25,000 Jews in Tehran whose schools and hospitals are paid for by the state, and when they were asked by Israel to migrate, they said no we are Iranians not Israelis. OK?

12 ) charliehebdo / paris
01/02/2013 06:49
Carol, may I suggest you read Nonni darwish or the writing of Mosab Hassan Yousef the son of hamas founder

13 ) Terry / Sweden
01/02/2013 15:53
You cannot speak of ethnic cleansing of Jews when these settlers transferred there illegally in the first place. If they want to stay there they can get Palestinian citizenship.

14 ) Paul / USA
01/02/2013 19:07
Eventually, UN/Pals must prevail. Problem is: strongest power, militarily & media wise, USA/GB alliance, beside being manipulated by Z lobbying & control, is supported by Tax Payers deceived into believing Z-State is a positive fulfillment of final aliyah promised in the Prophets, So, they, inturn sanction all Zs do in MidEast, keep taxes coming. Time to wake them up to this deception. BAZS.NET is a place to go to get started- no money will be asked for - just help giving out message only.

15 ) Phil / UK
01/02/2013 19:48
#13) Oh really, and how does one gain Palestinian citizenship in this Judenrein state? From what we have seen recently, even Pal refugees from Syria aren't welcome!

16 ) Reality / Calls
01/02/2013 20:36
Honestly the UN Human Rights will remove itself from the UN, long before
"Israel removes settlers from the West Bank or Easr Jerusalem.

17 ) ian / australia
01/02/2013 23:00
I agree with Dr. Ashrawi. It is "incredible" the UN has produced such strong condemnation of the settlements. But think about it. It's the kind ruling a court would make in a domestic dispute involving suburban neighbours and the purloining of property next-door for some purpose. The ruling would be blunt and unambiguous: get out, give it back and pay damages. There would be no talk of negotiating how much the guilty party could keep or compassion for inconvenience, loss or mental suffering

18 ) ian / australia
01/02/2013 23:00
(cond.) resulting from having to give it back. It would be a "principled and candid" ruling with a legal logic no-one could contest. It's the fog created by Israeli hasbara which enshrouds the whole conflict, making it "complex", which makes this report so "incredible" for boldly cutting through! And Israel's traditional kvetch about "inherent bias against it" and claims to Palestinian land "citing historical and Biblical links" (hah!) are exposed as pure chutzpah.

19 ) @ Terry-13 / USA
01/02/2013 23:29
The building demolitions that Palestinians call "ethnic cleansing" were also "there illegally in the first place, so if they want to" building, then they must get Israeli building building permits.

20 ) ian / australia
02/02/2013 00:10
#4 "Neither is Israel forcing any of its population to settle. They do so by choice." Phil/UK is almost doing stand-up. "...the hypocrisy those who call Israel apartheid whilst demanding the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homes before there can be peace talks." Ha! Ha! Ha! Good one, Phil!

21 ) ian / australia
02/02/2013 00:44
#10 "I will say again - the Palestinians should negotiate while they still can. If they don't, settlements and fences will establish Palestine for them - complete with borders." Law not your strong suit Outlier? Stalled (or non-existent) "talks" don't give Israel the right to declare Palestine's borders "for them". That's just an empty threat by a bully and the kind of criminal mind-set the report is all about. (Hey, I learnt to edit!)

22 ) ian / australia
02/02/2013 01:15
#1 Brian has an interesting response (as always). "More proof of the impotence and uselessness of the UN." The UN has no physical power to enforce it but the report is so bold and damning it's far from "useless" esp. comments on the jurisdiction of the ICC (Rome Statute) over "war crimes" under GCIV (this from a celebrated French judge with a L?gion d'honneur!) and Israel's liability under it (an issue which is NOT going away!) Next...attack the other guy: "The PA and Hamas also violate

23 ) ian / australia
02/02/2013 01:16
(contd.) international law, but we don't see much of stink being made about them..." True, largely with rocket fire from Gaza, but NOTHING like on the rapacious scale dealt with in the report! Then a familiar litany of the sins of Fatah/Hamas (arresting journalists etc.)...with Brian finally descending into madness with the outrageous claim that they "...encourage honor killings." (!!!)

24 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 01:17
To Brian Cohen #1 'More proof of the impotence and uselessness of the UN. The PA and Hamas also violate international law, but...' Ah. Well, we'll break relations with Hamas and list it as a terrorist organization, shall we? Make aiding it a criminal offense? Oh wait, that's not what we should do. I seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick here...

25 ) ian / australia
02/02/2013 01:30
Now a question for everyone. Why don't any of you Israel supporters ever address the issue of the LEGALITY of settlements in occupied Palestine? And the charges levelled in this report? The odd religious nut will always step up and justify it in hocus pocus Biblical terms but you "rational" people, you change the subject, catalogue Palestinian failings (like encouraging honour killings), fudge the law (most hilariously in Phil #4) and in fact, do everything but address the issue. Why is that?

26 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 01:32
To Terry #13 ' If they want to stay there they can get Palestinian citizenship.' Why should they have that option? If I and the other members of the First Church of Arbitrary and Violent Lunacy take it into our head to seize Sweden in general and your house in particular, do we get to stay if only we agree to become Swedish citizens? Hey, I MAY have a Swedish ancestor. Get off my land!

27 ) Wissam / Palestine
02/02/2013 11:28
Great the world has spoken (Again!) Get the settler trash out of Palestine pronto - no negotiations necessary!

28 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:24
To Carol Scheller #6: 'Phil, may I suggest you read Ilan Pappe's "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine"?' I suggest Phil read article 49. I doubt if it specifies that either that the movement be 'forced' or that the occupier be the 'aggressor.'

29 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:27
To Phil #15 'Oh really, and how does one gain Palestinian citizenship in this Judenrein state? From what we have seen recently, even Pal refugees from Syria aren't welcome!' That would be Israel that barred the movement. I realize intelligence more or less disqualifies one -- but surely Hasbara Central can do better than you?

30 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:33
Re Phil ' Israel wasn't the aggressor...' (I) If you looked at a map of the territory Germany controlled in 1937, and the territory she controlled in 1942, who would you say had been the aggressor? Now try comparing a map of the territory Israel was assigned in 1947 with the territory she controls now.

31 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:35
Re Phil ' Israel wasn't the aggressor...' (II) How a nation which has fought virtually all its battles on the land of others, which has initiated all but one of the wars it has engaged in, which has violated every peace agreement it has ever entered into, and which has invaded EVERY SINGLE ONE of its neighbors at one time or another can be seriously claimed to 'not be the aggressor' escapes me.

32 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:44
Re Phil ' Israel wasn't the aggressor...' (III) Looking at it dispassionately, I would say Israel is something more than 'aggressive.' After all, she has not merely invaded every single one of her neighbors, but she has mounted attacks on her major sponsor (the Lavon affair and the 'Liberty,') killed the citizens of friendly powers (Britain, Turkey), and carried out murders from Tehran to Oslo. I'd say she's got the national equivalent of rabies.

33 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/02/2013 23:50
To Henri #7 'And what about the USSR settling millions of people in territories seized from Poland, Germany, Romania...after WW2? And the 20 millions refugees they expelled, killing ~ 2 million of them?' Let me introduce you to what may be a morally revolutionary concept. Two wrongs don't make a right.

34 ) ian / australia
03/02/2013 00:24
#15 "#13) Oh really, and how does one gain Palestinian citizenship in this Judenrein state?" They can always apply Phil, but given the economic incentive for living there, like subsidised housing, would disappear if they became citizens of Palestine, I can't imagine many would...their great "connection" to "the land of our forefathers" being more about saving shekels. (Some religious people are different: like Rabbi Froman from Tekoa settlement who says he will ask to stay as a "Palestinian"

35 ) ian / australia
03/02/2013 00:25
(contd.) because the holiness of the land transcends the politics of which earthly government runs it and yes he is VERY cool.)

36 ) gabi / australia
04/02/2013 03:39
# 15 - fro what we have seen lately, it is Israel who has prevented refugees from going to Palestine. And "Judernrein"? How many Jewish settlers are there in Palestine? 400,000? 500,000?

37 ) OxfordPers / UK
04/02/2013 17:07
I am tired of Israel and their apologists making excuses and comparing their situation to others (varying according to the point that they would like to make). It is no form of defence to say I only killed 1,000 people when other states killed more. Death is death it is absolute not relative. Similarly apartheid is apartheid. They are wrong and the sooner that Israel gets to terms with it and stops hiding behind past wrongs the better for everyone.

38 ) Phil / UK
06/02/2013 11:15
25) "Why don't any of you Israel supporters ever address the issue of the LEGALITY of settlements in occupied Palestine?"

That issue has been addressed by myself and others many times in the past. All the land including Jordan was agreed by Emir Faisal and the League of Nations to belong to Israel. The fact that the UN ignores this merely reflects the rise of anti-Israel sentiment within it. And that makes its rulings, and those that are based on them, not worth the ink they are written with.

39 ) No / Logic
06/02/2013 11:36
Phil. You are not an expert, you are simply making things up. Get an actual job and stop spending all your time on comments sections where you feel you are being listened to. You comment is absolute propaganda, it is ridiculous.

40 ) Tobias / USA
06/02/2013 16:22
Despite the world and Arab fantasies, the real situation is that:
- Israel must evacuate the "protest villages", and
- Israel will ignore the "UN human rights inquiry".

41 ) Phil / UK
06/02/2013 20:10
39) Try spending an hour or two on Wikipedea. Start with the Balfour Declaration. Work your way through the Paris and San Remo negotiations and agreements. Read what the Mandate required of the British. Then check out what they actually did, and why they did it. Learn about the Nazi involvement with Arab Nationalism. How they helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood that is behind the PLO and Hamas, and all the current regional problems. Only then will you be qualified to say what is propaganda.

42 ) ian / australia
09/02/2013 00:58
#41 "Try spending an hour or two on Wikipedea." OK Phil, here's an English example you can relate to. A long time ago, an official ruling determined how long Oscar Wilde should spend in gaol. (It was two years with hard labour.) That's what the courts of the day, based on the laws and values of the day, decided was just. (Now the UK has gay marriage.) A few years later, Lord Balfour assured Baron Rothschild that "His majesty's government would view with favour...etc." and the League of Nations

43 ) ian / australia
09/02/2013 01:00
(contd.) (Paris/San Remo) made more official rulings based on it. Now what do these official rulings, all valid in their day, have in common? They're archaic relics from a bygone era with NO current value or application because the morals, values and beliefs unpinning them have dramatically shifted. That's what happened after WW2. The horror of it all inspired the historic attempt to RE-WRITE the moral foundations (at least of the West) in terms of HUMAN rights not the privilege of Great Powers

44 ) ian / australia
09/02/2013 01:01
(contd.) to carve up and apportion the world amongst loyal vassals and clients. Geneva, Nuremberg, the UDHR are the result and remain the current valid measure of what is legal and moral today. In a nutshell, Balfour, League of Nations, San Remo, Sykes-Picot, the Mandate and any other Colonial era crap you think provides the LEGAL basis for the theft of Palestinian land and building Jewish settlements on it have been SUPERSEDED by more enlightened rulings (like UN-Res 242)!

45 ) ian / australia
09/02/2013 01:03
(contd.) So really Phil, your argument is as null and void, and irrelevant to contemporary affairs, as Oscar Wilde's draconian prison sentence. Response? (No, I didn't think so.)
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