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Palestine complains to UN over settler violence

Jan. 29, 2011 4:30 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 30, 2011 9:52 A.M.)
Correction appended

NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- Palestinian delegate to the United Nations Riyad Mansour wrote to the UN Security Council on Friday, calling for "urgent attention and serious action" following a wave of settler violence that left two dead and four injured over the previous two days.

In what was said to be the 383rd letter to the UN since 2000 over issues of rights abuses stemming from Israel's occupation, Mansour asked that details of recent deadly settler attacks against Palestinians be transmitted to the UN Security Council for consideration.

The submission of the letter comes as the council meets on the Middle East, and is expected to shortly address a draft resolution submitted by Arab States which seeks the UN condemnation of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Mansour's letter outlined the shooting deaths of Uday Qadous and Yousef Ikhiel, as well as several other violent incidents the official called "brutal actions committed by Israel settlers against Palestinian civilians and their properties."

Qadous, 17, Mansour noted, was the third resident of the northern West Bank village of Iraq Burin to be killed by settlers in the past year.

"Settlers from the illegal settlement of 'Sousia' attacked two Palestinian shepherds from the town of Yatta ... with iron bars, leaving one in serious condition," in an incident Thursday, the letter detailed.

"Israeli occupying forces looked on and did nothing to stop the settlers from attacking the Palestinian shepherds," Mansour continued, adding that "Instead, the occupying arrested two Palestinians who were in the vicinity, including a photographer who was documenting the attack."

"Settler terror, harassment and destruction unabated, on a daily basis, without fear of punishment or being brought to justice for their crimes against the Palestinian people," the letter said, accusing Israeli forces occupying the area and maintaining civil control of areas adjacent to settlements, of "actually enabling their crimes through the military and financial assistance and protection accorded to them [settlers]."

The letter, addressed to current Security Council President and Bosnian diplomat Ivan Barbalic, said "Israel's settlement campaign constitutes an existential threat to the two-State solution for peace in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles including the land for peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap."

The letter stressed a deterioration in the situation vis-a-vis the settlements, reminding the UNSC leader that Israel had approved thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank, in a "blatant, relentless colonization of the Palestinian land ... in deliberate and grave breach of the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

(This version CORRECTS that the letter was not sent to the Government of Israel, as originally stated.)
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