For Immediate Release
Illegal Israeli Settlement Plans Threaten Palestinian Human Rights
LONDON - Amnesty International today urged the Israeli authorities to
abandon plans to construct 238 new housing units in Israeli settlements
in occupied East Jerusalem.
“The Israeli authorities must immediately halt expansion of
settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank,”
said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the
Middle East and North Africa.
“Not only does the building contravene international law, it also
compounds the litany of abuses of the human rights of Palestinians
living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including their rights
to adequate housing and water.”
The 238 new housing units are planned for the large settlements of
Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot, established in 1984 and 1974 respectively.
Pisgat Ze’ev now has over 40,000 residents and, like Ramot, its services
are provided by the Israeli Jerusalem municipal authority.
The plan for 80 units in Pisgat Ze’ev and 158 in Ramot was announced
yesterday by the Israel Lands Administration and the Israeli Ministry
for Construction and Housing. According to the Israeli media, Israel’s
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the plans.
Although the areas of Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot were not covered by the
recent freeze on settlement construction, which excluded East Jerusalem,
all settlement building on occupied land is illegal under international
Israel unilaterally annexed 70.5km² of occupied land in East Jerusalem and its environs following the 1967 war.
“Discrimination on grounds of nationality and religion is the
dominant feature of Israel’s settlement policy,” said Philip Luther.
“The policy violates the rights both of Palestinians in East
Jerusalem living under civil law and of those in the rest of the West
Bank where they are subject to Israeli military law.”
Israel’s land grab and dissection of the West Bank, including East
Jerusalem, have had a devastating impact on the lives of Palestinians.
In East Jerusalem, 35 per cent of the land has been expropriated for
settlements in which 195,000 Israelis live. Meanwhile, more than 250,000
Palestinians are designated only 13 per cent of East Jerusalem, which
is already heavily built up.
In the rest of the West Bank, around 40 per cent of the land has now
been classified by Israel as “state” land and often used for
settlements. A further 21 per cent of the settlements’ built-up areas
lie on private Palestinian land.
The confiscations, seizures and appropriations of land for
settlements, bypass roads, the fence/wall and related infrastructure
have resulted in the forced eviction of Palestinians.
According to the UN, in 2009 alone more than 600 Palestinians were
displaced in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, more than
half of them children, after their homes were demolished under order
from the Israeli authorities, often to make way for Israeli settlements.
Under Israeli military law, Palestinian families evicted from their
homes are not entitled to alternative housing or compensation. The
result is that many then face homelessness and destitution.
“Last year, Amnesty International reported on the extent to which
Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying
Palestinians their right to water, said Philip Luther.
“We have repeatedly documented the connection between settlements and
the destruction of Palestinians’ homes, crops, agricultural lands, and
Israel’s policy of settling its civilians on occupied land violates
the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime, according to
the statute of the International Criminal Court.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.