12/09/2016, 09.56
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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UN: Israeli settlements norm violates international law

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein invites parliamentarians to "reconsider" support for the norm. It "harms the reputation" of Israel in the world. The Knesset approves the first reading with 57 votes in favor and 51 against. Two more votes scheduled before final approval.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The law under discussion in the Israeli Parliament to legalize about 4 thousand settler homes in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank, is a "flagrant violation" of international law, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein, who strongly calls on "Israeli deputies to reconsider their support for the norm", which grants permits "retroactively" to homes of the settlers "built on land belonging to private Palestinians".

The statement by the United Nations official follows the Knesset vote giving the green light to the legislative process. The norm received 57 votes against 51. But it needs two more readings before final approval. Israeli human rights activists and associations have criticized the law, which would put an end to the birth of a [future] Palestinian state.

In a note Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has asked members of "Parliament reconsider their support for the law" that in the event of entry into force, would have "far-reaching consequences" and " seriously damage Israel's reputation in the world". Among the main supporters are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The norm "violates international law," he said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, because it "allows the use of private Palestinian land" for the development "of settlements, without the owners consent." " Israel as the occupying power – he warns - must respect the private property of Palestinians, regardless of whether or not compensation is provided".

The United States and the European Union have both intervened in the issue saying that the continued expansion, occupation and fragmentation of Palestinian territory "is devouring" the possibility of a peaceful solution. Settlements and outposts, concludes Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, are "the root cause of a wide range of human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

According to the latest statistics provided by Peace Now, Israel gave the green light to 2,623 housing units in the West Bank, including 756 illegally-built homes that have been retrospectively "legalised”.

About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built by Israel after it seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Under international law these settlements are illegal, a view disputed by the Israeli government, which has boosted its expansionist policy in recent years.

Peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2014, triggering an escalation of violence in the region.

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