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UN: Legalising settlements ‘step towards annexation of West Bank’

December 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

United Nations envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov released a statement yesterday warning that Israel’s “formalisation law” which seeks to retrospectively legalise illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank would be “a step towards the annexation of the West Bank”.

“I encourage Israeli legislators to reconsider this move,” Mladenov said of the bill, which would retroactively legalise 4,000 settler homes, and lead to the expropriation of 8,000 dunams (8 square kilometres) of private Palestinian lands.

This legislation “has the objective of protecting illegal settlements and outposts built on private Palestinian property in the West Bank. Some have pronounced it to be a step towards the annexation of the West Bank.”

“I reiterate that all settlement activities are illegal under international law and run counter to the Middle East Quartet position that settlements are one of the main obstacles to peace.”

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) also reacted with outrage to the advancement of the law.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi strongly denounced the bill’s approval as a “legal travesty” as well as a “war crime” as defined by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to convene an emergency meeting “in light of Israel’s disastrous settlement activities and to undertake serious punitive measures against Israel.”

“[Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government is deliberately escalating its illegal settlement enterprise and stealing Palestinian land and resources,” she wrote, warning against the damaging effects of settlement expansion on the two-state solution.

“Israel’s actions are provoking grave violence and instability in an already-volatile region; the international community must intervene immediately before it is too late,” Ashrawi insisted.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also released a statement, noting Israel’s “long history of attempts to ‘legalise’ war crimes,” and also demanded action from the UNSC and the ICC.

“This latest step shows the extremist Israeli government’s confidence that the international community will not act. This culture of impunity continues to destroy the prospects to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.”