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Fayyad demands intervention to stop settler violence

Feb. 8, 2011 10:23 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 9, 2011 6:02 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- International pressure must be brought to bear on Israeli settlers in the West Bank to halt their use of violence and constant harassment of Palestinians, premier Salam Fayyad said Monday.

Speaking with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Navi Pillary, who is on an official visit to Palestine, Fayyad blamed the Israeli government for "terrorist acts" committed by settlers, and cited the shooting deaths of two teens in January.

"It is time the international community stopped treating Israel as a state above the law," Fayyad said, demanding that international work be put into protecting Palestinians.

Amid what officials had already called a rise in settler violence -- with reports of assaults on farmers, attempted hit-and-runs, and shooting injuries -- two teenagers were shot and killed in separate incidents. On Jan. 27 a settler shot a teen farmer in the northern West Bank, and the following day a second teen was shot near Hebron and pronounced dead hours later.

The shootings came just weeks after Israeli authorities announced a program to confiscate weapons handed out to settlers by the government during the First Intifada.

Human rights and the separation wall

During Pillary's visit, Fayyad accompanied him to the Jerusalem-area village of Beit Iksa, stuck in a no-man's-land within the Green Line but trapped on the Israeli side of the separation wall, next to the Ramot Allon settlement.

In the village, Fayyad and the UN official visited Sabri Ghareib, whose home is surrounded with a barbed-wire fence, in which Israeli forces installed an electronic gate which opens to allow the family members in and out of their village. The residents of the area must still cross military checkpoints to pass through to the adjacent village of Beit Surik.

Pillary called the continued settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank "inhumane," saying that "We know citizens suffer and face threats, and as UN Commissioner for Human Rights, I will play my role and try to reduce their suffering."
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