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Opinion: Settlements are illegal, so settlers must leave

Feb. 5, 2013 5:03 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 9:20 P.M.)
By: Rashid Shahin
Palestinians have waited for more than six decades following their Nakba, or catastrophe, in 1948, and more than four decades of occupation until the world has finally admitted that colonies or "settlements" in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are not only illegal, but are also in violation of international law and constitute war crimes.

Israel is responsible for the millions of Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the world, the hundreds of thousands of prisoners and victims since Israel was founded, and is still responsible despite the fact that the world community believes that Israel is an occupying power and settlements in occupied Palestinian land are illegal.

More than half a million Jewish settlers in more than 250 colonies must leave the settlements they have built illegally on stolen Palestinian lands since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967; this was the conclusion of the UN investigators who convened in Geneva a few days ago.

The report also said that Israeli settlement practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

Christine Chanet, a French Judge who led the inquiry in a press conference said "Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights."

As expected, Israeli politicians refused to accept the decision, and attacked the UN, the way they do every time Israel is condemned for its deeds.

In fact, Israeli leaders never recognize or accept decisions made by the UN or any of its organizations; the only decision they recognized and welcomed with joy, was the decision which announced the division of Palestine, giving the Zionist terrorist gangs an entity on the Palestinian land and with it the foundation of the State of Israel.

The report's recommendations also called on all member states to carry out their responsibilities towards the Israeli violations and irregularities of international law.

Former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said "the recommendations are useless and not worth the ink they were written with." He knows that the world will deal with them in the same way as every other UN recommendation on the Palestinians throughout the years.

Settlements and settlers are part of the long-lasting problem of the Israeli occupation that is imposed upon the Palestinians.

Despite the position of the world's countries and the universal condemnation of settlement building, Israel continues its policy in this regard; plans to confiscate more lands appear frequently, and the demolition of Palestinian neighborhoods is still one of the main practices of the occupation authorities.

The UN human rights recommendations are particularly important because Israel's settlement policies continue to harm Palestinians. Israel is threatening to demolish the al-Fhaidat neighborhood of Anata, north of Jerusalem, the village of Susiya in the south Hebron hills, and many rural communities in the Jordan Valley.

In occupied East Jerusalem, things are worsening, as reported by Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday: '"Two weeks ago an enforcement/punishment operation ended in Isawiya in north Jerusalem, and a week ago a new operation started in Silwan. The operations included numerous arrests, roadblocks to inspect vehicles, tax collection, house demolitions, shutting off water, various fines, searches and random checks of identification, and more'."

The time has come to eradicate this plague that undermines the two-state solution, prolongs Israel's policy of land confiscation and the construction and expansion of settlements, while turning its back on the international community and ignoring all human rights demands.

The author is a Palestinian writer and journalist based in Bethlehem.
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