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I am compelled to write to you today regarding the continued provocative, illegal Israeli actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem. This week the Israeli occupying authorities in East Jerusalem openly declared the intention to pursue more projects clearly aimed at further unlawfully altering the status, geographical nature and demographic composition of the occupied city, including via the demolition of more Palestinian homes to create a “tourist centre”.
These inflammatory announcements come on the heels of yet another inflammatory declaration a week earlier; when the Government of Israel designated various religious and archaeological sites in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as so-called official “Israeli heritage sites”, an incendiary, illegal action that has led to widespread unrest and heightened tensions on the ground. In addition, just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu arrogantly and provocatively declared that Israel would never agree under any peace settlement to withdraw from the Jordan Valley, a large part of the Palestinian Territory that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Recent Israeli provocations, however, have not been limited to just announcements and plans. At a time when all corners of the world are calling on Israel to halt its illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to give peace efforts a chance, the Israeli occupying authorities in East Jerusalem brazenly endorsed, on 26 February, a new project to build 600 settlement units on illegally confiscated Palestinian land near the neighbourhood of Shu’fat. Moreover, dozens more home demolition notifications have been served to Palestinian families living in Al-Bustan and the Al-Abbassia areas in the neighbourhood of Silwan, and plans have also been revealed for the seizure of Palestinian land in Sheikh Jarrah to build a “car park” for illegal settlers.
These latest Israeli decisions and actions are obviously aimed at further entrenching this illegal occupation by creating more factors on the ground that change the features of Occupied East Jerusalem. Such aggressive, illegal Israeli policies and practices, foremost among them Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement campaign and its inhumane and blatant expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population from the City, must be directly confronted and condemned. These policies are detrimentally impacting the fabric and presence of Palestinian life in East Jerusalem, including residence and livelihoods in the Old City. Moreover, such policies are gravely undermining the prospects for realization of the two-State solution since they are deliberately and artificially severing East Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian Territory and destroying that Territory’s contiguity and viability. At the same time, such actions are deepening the mistrust in Israel’s intentions and emptying Israeli pronouncements regarding readiness to resume the peace process of any meaning.
We reiterate that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it remains occupied, and that, in the context of the two-State solution for peace — on which there is a clear international consensus on the basis of international law, United Nations resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Road Map — it is to be the future capital of the State of Palestine.
In the rest of the West Bank, the situation is also of serious concern. Recently, Israeli bulldozers razed land in the village of Al-Khader near Bethlehem for the expansion of the illegal settlement of “Eliezer”. Armed Israeli settlers also continue to terrorize the Palestinian population, harassing, intimidating and attacking civilians, causing destruction to properties, including to religious sites, and uprooting hundreds of olive trees, most recently in Burin, south of Nablus. Further in this regard, on 28 February, extremist Israeli settlers escorted by occupying forces entered the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound in Occupied East Jerusalem, sparking clashes with Palestinian worshippers. As was the case on similar previous occasions, eyewitness accounts and reports confirm that the occupying forces used excessive force against the Palestinian civilians at the holy compound, inflicting injuries on a number of them.
This escalating Israeli campaign in Occupied East Jerusalem and all other provocations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory require the serious attention of the international community. The continuation of this situation is perpetuating the deterioration of conditions on the ground, exacerbating heightened tensions, and severely undercutting any potential confidence-building measures, all of which negatively impact the international and regional efforts being exerted to revive the peace process in any form. Further, if left unchecked, these actions threaten to plunge the region into yet another spiral of violence with vastly negative consequences at all levels. We thus call on the international community, the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, to assume its full responsibilities and to put an end to these illegal Israeli policies and intentional provocations, in order to salvage the hopes and advance the efforts for a future of peace and security in the region.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 357 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 23 February 2010 (A/ES-10/477-S/2010/97) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.