UN committee urges Security Council to act on ‘alarming’ developments in East Jerusalem

Students at an UNRWA girls’ school in East Jerusalem read in the schoolyard with the Al-Aqsa mosque in the background. Photo: UNRWA

5 March 2014 – A United Nations committee on Palestinian rights today called on the Security Council to act quickly to address “alarming” developments in East Jerusalem, including increasing incursions by Israeli extremists and political leaders on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The Bureau of the General Assembly’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in a statement issued in New York, said such incidents provoke Palestinian and other Muslim worshippers and often lead to clashes, in which Palestinian civilians are injured, tear-gassed and detained.

In another “worrying” development, the Israeli Parliament recently began a debate on a bill to impose ‘Israeli sovereignty’ over the Temple Mount, known in Arabic as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

“Such actions with regard to this highly sensitive area are not only a cause for concern to the Palestinians but also may be perceived as serious acts of incitement in the wider region,” warned the Committee. “Moreover, these actions undermine the current negotiations process, threatening the prospects for peace.”

The Committee added that these recent actions are indicative of a strategy aimed at altering the legal, demographic, physical and cultural character of East Jerusalem. “Such actions are clearly prohibited under international law. House demolitions, evictions, land expropriation and the revocation of residency rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites are also on the increase.”

In 2013, 565 structures were demolished in East Jerusalem, displacing 298 Palestinians, including many women and children, according to the statement, which also noted that Palestinians are permitted to build in only 14 per cent of East Jerusalem, and a third of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem has been expropriated since 1967. In the same period, Israel has revoked the residency status of more than 14,000 Palestinians.

Israel also continues to construct settlements in East Jerusalem in violation of international law and in defiance of the international community’s repeated calls for ending such illegal acts, the Committee stated.

“The Bureau of the Committee calls on the Security Council to act without delay to address these alarming developments which are in defiance of the Council’s resolutions...”

Also today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today released new information relating to affected populations in Area C of the West Bank – the over 60 per cent of the West Bank that remains under the near complete control of Israel.

The inter-agency humanitarian profiling exercise, the Vulnerability Profile Project (VPP), estimates that 300,000 Palestinians reside in hundreds of residential areas located in Area C and provides the most comprehensive information available to date on issues such as physical protection, access to land and livelihoods, water and sanitation, education and health.

“Residents of Area C are among the most vulnerable in the West Bank in terms of humanitarian needs, including access to basic services,” said Ramesh Rajasingham, Head of the OCHA office in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“While Area C has been a priority area for humanitarian assistance in recent years, our picture of what is happening to Palestinians there has been incomplete due to a lack of data. The VPP is an attempt to better understand the situation,” he added.


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