24 February 2012 A United Nations committee on Palestinian rights today voiced alarm at the recent decision of Israeli authorities to build more than 500 new homes in a settlement inside the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement criticizing the decision to construct the homes in the Shilo settlement on the West Bank and a separate attempt to retroactively “legalize” some 200 settlement units built earlier without permit.
“The committee notes with concern that the move is described by the Israeli settlement watchdog organization Peace Now as the ‘biggest construction plan to date’ under the current Israeli Government,” the statement said.
“By this decision, Israel continues to ignore calls by the international community for halting its illegal settlement activity, further diminishing already fading prospects for resuming Israeli-Palestinian talks and for realizing the two-State solution.
Today’s statement echoes the concerns expressed on Wednesday by Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, who called the Shilo announcement “deplorable.”
The statement also said that “the retroactive ‘legalization’ of settler units is being carried out at the same time as Israel accelerates the pace of the demolition of Palestinian homes allegedly built without permits in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
“The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, in 2011, some 622 homes and livelihood structures belonging to Palestinian families were destroyed, forcibly displacing almost 1,100 people, over half of them children.
“This constitutes yet another breach by Israel of its obligation as the occupying power to protect the civilian population under its control in addition to violating the right to property, to adequate housing and to livelihoods of the Palestinian families affected by such illegal policies.”
The committee stressed that settlement activity is illegal under international law, as well as an impediment to peace in the region.
The committee reiterated earlier calls on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activity, and “to refrain from any acts that undermine international efforts to bring Israeli-Palestinian talks back on track.”
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