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PLO to request ICC investigation of Israeli settlement activity

Sept. 25, 2017 3:43 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 26, 2017 3:41 P.M.)
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though not by the Israeli government (AFP / Menahem Kahan, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) --The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to submit an official request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate illegal Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi told Ma’an on Monday.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that the Executive Committee had “asked” the ICC to begin investigations, though Ashrawi said that the committee had only made the decision to move forward with submitting an official investigation request.

According to Wafa, during an Executive Committee meeting on Sunday, the PLO condemned Israel for “ethnic cleansing and racial segregation,” which they highlighted were “considered war crimes that should be investigated by the ICC.”

A PLO statement reportedly accused Israel of carrying out a “silent ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Hebron, and in other areas of the occupied West Bank particularly exposed to Israel’s settlement project.

As a result of said violations of international law, the PLO “decided to refer the file of settlements as a war crime and the file of ethnic cleansing, discrimination and apartheid to the ICC with an urgent appeal to open a judicial investigation into the war crimes committed by the State of Israel in the Palestinian territories occupied during the 1967 aggression,” Wafa quoted the statement as saying.

The PLO also called on the United Nations to take “necessary and speedy measures to inspect (Israel’s) nuclear facilities,” and to “provide protection to the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation,” adding that that the international community “cannot continue with its double standard policy and not implement international law and UN resolutions when it comes to Israel.”

According to Wafa, the PLO statement went on to say that “Jewish settler groups that have been terrorizing the Palestinian people in the occupied territories... should be considered as terrorist organizations and treated as such,” and accused Israel of protecting violent settlers who carry out attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties.

The PLO reportedly said that international law and UN resolutions “remain the only base for a comprehensive and balanced political settlement that will provide security and stability to all people in the region.”

Reports emerged on Sunday that Israel’s Civil Administration is expected to advance plans within the next few weeks for up to 2,000 new illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

Separately, four Palestinian human rights organizations submitted a 700-page communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday alleging that Israeli officials have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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