Lizzie Dearden / The Independent & Jon Stone / The Independent – 2015-02-08 00:41:57
Hundreds of Rabbis from Around the World
Call on Israel to Halt Demolition of Palestinian Homes
Lizzie Dearden / The Independent
(February 7, 2015) — More than 400 rabbis from Israel, Britain and around the world have called on Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes.
Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) has submitted an open letter to the Israeli Prime Minister claiming his stance is not in line with “international law and Jewish tradition.” It came after Mr. Netanyahu announced the destruction of more than 400 Palestinian homes in the Israel-controlled part of the West Bank known as Area C.
The pre-fabricated bungalows were funded by the European Union, the Daily Mail reported, but did not have building permits and are being demolished as illegal structures.
“Thousands have been forced to build without permits, and great human suffering is caused when hundreds of homes are demolished each year,” the letter said. “The State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that every human being under her control, each created in God’s Image, has a fair chance to build a home for him/herself and his/her family, irrespective of the current state of the peace process or differing opinions about what areas will be under Israel’s control in a future final status agreement.”
A United Nations envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories raised opposition to house demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem last month.
“In the past three days, 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been made homeless,” said James Rawley, the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. “Some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families.
“Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension. They must stop immediately.”
From 20 to 23 January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 42 Palestinian-owned structures in the Ramallah, Jerusalem, Jericho and Hebron governorates.
The planning policies applied by Israel in Area C discriminate against Palestinians, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits, office said.
In 2014, OCHA recorded 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem destroyed by Israeli authorities, displacing 1,177 people. It was the highest number since the agency started monitoring displacement in 2008.
US Government Says Israel Plans for
450 New Illegal Settlement Homes Will ‘Inflame Tensions’
Jon Stone / The Independent
(January 31, 2015) — Plans to build 450 new homes in Israel’s illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory will “inflame tensions” in the Middle East, the United States government has said. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the move was deeply concerning and would further isolate Israel.
[The plans will] “inflame tensions, further isolate Israel internationally and will not help Israel’s security,” she said at a press conference yesterday.
The Israeli authorities published plans in Friday to build new housing units in the district of East Migron, which is on the Palestinian territories’ side of the so-called green line. The green line was laid out in 1949 armistice agreements between the armies of Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Israel has since breached these lines and it is now currently illegally occupying parts of the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli government says it needs to occupy Palestine for security reasons, despite repeated resolutions from the United Nations calling for it to withdraw.
Last year Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories accused the Israeli government of “ethnic cleansing” by trying to replace Arab Palestinian populations in its territory with Jewish Israelis. Israeli settlers have also been accused of violence against the existing inhabitants of the land they build on.
The latest move to build the 450 homes in the settlement comes after a period in which Israel refrained from expanding the illegal settlements further.
The United States tends to support Israel and considers the country a key ally in the region, but has increasingly shown public willingness to criticise the Middle Eastern state. The UK government, also an ally of Israel, criticised the move and reiterated that the settlements were illegal under international law.
“The UK condemns the Government of Israel’s decision of 30 January to publish new tenders for 450 settlement units in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The UK’s position on Israeli settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law,” Conservative Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood said in a statement. “We urge the Government of Israel to reverse this decision. It is important to focus on steps that are conducive to peace.”
The EU’s foreign police spokesperson Frederica Mogherini called for the end of settlement expansion.
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