Over 600,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, areas Palestinians seek for their future state. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Israeli banks are violating international law by become directly involved in settlement development projects in the occupied West Bank that "contribute to human rights abuses," Human Right Watch said in a new report published Tuesday.In the 41 page report, "Bankrolling Abuse: Israeli Banks in West Bank Settlements," Israel's largest banks are found to have provided services that "help support, maintain, and expand unlawful settlements" by financing their construction in land illegally seized from Palestinians in the West Bank. Because developers are limited in the amount of money they can acquire from the banks in advance under Israeli law, many banks obtain "a property interest" and stay involved in the developments until completion. Israeli banks and any international partners should therefore cease doing business in or with Israeli settlements, the rights group advocates.West Bank settlements are now home to around 400,000 Israelis and an additional 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, according to figures from Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.Human Rights Watch said Israeli banks did not respond to requests for comment.
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