BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinians hail UN call for end to Israeli settlements

  • Houses in the Jewish settlement of Halamish are seen from a road near West Bank city of Ramallah February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

JERUSALEM: The Palestine Liberation Organisation lauded on Tuesday UN condemnation of Israeli settlement building, but slammed the US position on human rights "violations" by the Jewish state.

"On behalf of the Palestinian people and leadership, I would like to express great appreciation and gratitude" to the UN's Human Rights Council, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

"We appreciate your support and value your courage to stand behind your convictions."

The UNHRC presented a report to diplomats this month which said Israel must immediately begin withdrawing its settlers from the Palestinian territories.

The body also passed resolutions slamming settlement building and alleged abuses against Palestinians, all of which the US voted against.

"The United States once again demonstrated a total disregard for Palestinian rights and the requirements of peace," Ashrawi said.

It "voted against justice, and for impunity, in the face of the most egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law... it voted against peace."

The PLO's comments came several days after a visit by Barack Obama to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his first as US president.

Israel must act to "immediately and without preconditions cease the settlement activity and to initiate a process of withdrawal from the settlements," French delegate Christine Chanet told the UNHRC on March 18, lamenting a "rampant annexation" of Palestinian territories.

The UNHRC report, published at the end of January, sparked angry reactions from Israel, which slammed it and the Human Rights Council that commissioned it as "one-sided and biased."

Israel's new hawk-dominated ruling coalition is expected to strengthen the power of the settlers.

Israel has come under widespread international criticism for ramping up its construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories. Notable is occupied east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to establish as the capital of their future state but that Israel considers part of its "indivisible" capital.

All Israeli settlements on Palestinian land beyond the so-called 1949 Green Line are considered illegal under international law.

 
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