Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Settlements ARE an obstacle to peace!

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank, defying U.S. calls for a halt to settlement growth according to an article in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz today.

Interestingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that international concerns regarding settlement activity are impeding the Middle East peace process. However, the EU and the United States view Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank as an OBSTACLE to peace.

Israeli Human Rights Organization, BTselem, explains exactly why settlement activity in the occupied West Bank is an obstacle to peace:

As part of the regime, Israel has stolen thousands of dunams of land from the Palestinians. On this land, Israel has established dozens of settlements in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians now live. Israel forbids Palestinians to enter and use these lands and uses the settlements to justify numerous violations of Palestinian rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a living, and freedom of movement. The sharp changes Israel made to the map of the West Bank make a viable Palestinian state impossible as part of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

BTselem goes on to argue the illegality of the settlements within the framework of international humanitarian law:

The establishment of settlements in the West Bank violates international humanitarian law which establishes principles that apply during war and occupation. Moreover, the settlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Article 49).

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