Palestine Decided to bring war crimes charges against Israel over settlements

Report By: Nina Rai  

 Jerusalem, 04 Dec., 2012

Palestine has slammed Israel for approving the construction of thousands of new building units in occupied territories of West Bank, immediately after Palestinian successful ‘de facto’ statehood bid in UN.   It has also threatened to bring war crimes charges against the Jewish State, if it does not stop the illegal settlement activities. Palestinians are now demanding urgent world intervention to halt what they call as “this latest Israeli provocation.”   In letters sent on Monday to UN Secretary-General, Security Council and General Assembly, Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour bemoaned that Israel continues to “flagrantly pursue its illegal policies and practices.”   At the same time, also striking a conciliatory note the Palestinian envoy reaffirmed Palestine’s willingness to resume peace negotiations to reach the goal of two states living side-by-side with each other in harmony.   Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath on Monday warned that the Palestinian Authority (PA) in West Bank would bring war crime charges against Israel if it continues with its settlement construction.   Late Monday, Shaath disclosed that “many countries” have pleaded with the PA not to use its new upgraded status at UN to press for war crime charges against Israel at the UN international court.

However, Shaath said that “by continuing these war crimes of settlement activities on our lands and stealing our money, Israel is pushing and forcing us to go to the ICC.”   Meanwhile, Israeli cabinet led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu in defying world criticism on Monday approved a new plan to build 3600 additional housing units in the occupied territory in East Jerusalem.   This step by Netanyahu now takes the number of Israeli settlement units to 6600 barely four days after the UN recognized the state of Palestine. The Israeli move has already drawn sharp criticism from European allies, with at least three nations Britain, France and Sweden summoning ambassadors to rebuke them for the move they say undermines an already-tenuous peace process.   The Israeli cabinet meanwhile approved the building of 3600 new housing units spread over three areas with the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo to get 1600 new housing units, Givat Ze’ev to get 1000 housing units and Beit Safafa to get another 1000 housing units.   Defying worldwide censure of Israeli settlement plans, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is to conduct a meeting today in Ramat Shlomo. The members will discuss the latest plan to expand settlement in East Jerusalem, their justification being that this plan had already been approved 2 years ago, in March 2010.   One of the projects then, a 1,600 apartment development plan had caused a massive uproar at the international level as it was approved during a state visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. The approval triggered a diplomatic row between Washington and Israel, following which the plan together with new construction projects in East Jerusalem, was scrapped.   Meanwhile, Hagit Ofran of Israel’s Peace Now movement has slammed the latest Israeli decision. “The government is doing its best to avoid the two-state solution,” opined Ofran.   Opinion: In brazen defiance of international condemnation over Israeli settlement plans in occupied territory, the Jewish state is going ahead full throttle with two major construction plans in east Jerusalem, a site where majority of the Palestinians dream of having their future capital.   Naturally, this is not something going to be taken lightly by the Palestinian Authority especially in the wake of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday afternoon recognizing it as a “full nonmember observer state,” which gives them a strong symbolic world backing.   The UN recognition also enables the Palestinians to gain access to the International Criminal Court, where they can also seek war crimes charges against Israel. This, however, begs the question can they bring Israel before the ICC over it illegal construction of settlements for Jews on war-won land?   Well, Palestine can, in a sense, do so by accusing Tel Aviv of violating the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on forced displacement of populations by establishing settlements, which in turn makes Israel’s residential settlements in the West Bank as a crime of war.   Already Israel disregarding world opinion is going on with its settlements after getting due cabinet approval for the same. The tangible presence of the settlements will give Palestine a strong case on a platter (so to speak) to drag Israel before the International court or at least threaten to drag it before the court, which it is rightfully doing now, to tame a belligerent Israel into compliance over settlements.

Sources: English Palestine News Network/CBS News

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