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Israel, the occupying Power, continues its illegal colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in and around East Jerusalem, intensifying its confiscation of Palestinian land, expansion of settlements and settlement infrastructure, transfer of Israeli settlers, construction of the Wall and other such destructive measures, including the demolition of more Palestinian homes, in its attempt to de facto annex more Palestinian land.
All of this is being perpetrated in grave breach of international law and United Nations resolutions, which respectively prohibit colonization activities by the occupying Power and have called for complete cessation of Israeli settlement activities and dismantlement of the settlements, as well as in violation of Israel’s commitments and obligations in the Middle East peace process, including under the Quartet road map, which clearly calls for a freeze on all Israeli settlement activities, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement “outposts” established since March 2001.
In this regard, the entire concept and premise of so-called “natural growth” in settlements must be completely rejected, for all settlement activity is illegal under international law and absolutely none should be deemed acceptable or permissible. The Israeli myth regarding “natural growth” must be directly confronted on this very clear legal basis, in addition to the fact that such growth is far from natural as Israeli policy actively promotes settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in East Jerusalem, through extensive Government subsidies and incentives meant to actually encourage and facilitate the transfer of its civilian population into the Territory, which primarily accounts for the dramatic rise in the settler population over the years, now numbering nearly half a million settlers.
The consequences of such illegal and provocative Israeli colonization practices have become abundantly clear. The contiguity, integrity and viability of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the capital of the future State of Palestine, is being gravely undermined; Palestinian lives and rights are being detrimentally impacted, daily and grossly; and the prospects for realizing the two-State solution for peace on the basis of the 1967 borders are being deliberately sabotaged. Tensions between the two sides continue to escalate and a resumption of the peace process continues to be obstructed by Israel’s intransigent insistence on pursuit of this illegal colonization campaign, which seriously casts doubt on Israel’s credibility in and commitment to the peace process.
As repeatedly stressed by the Palestinian leadership, a complete cessation of Israeli settlement activities — a “settlement freeze” — is fundamental for ensuring that no further harm is done to the Palestinian Territory and by extension to Palestinian national aspirations, as well as to the two-State solution for peace, on which there exists a firm international consensus. The peace process will continue to stumble, stall and fail as long as Israel continues to carry out actions that are in direct contradiction to the core objective of that process and to the main principle sustaining that process, namely the principle of land for peace. A return to the peace process negotiations under such conditions would be totally futile.
Accordingly, I wish to draw your attention to just a few of the most recent Israeli violations in this regard and to renew the call of the Palestinian leadership for action by the international community to bring an end to this illegal colonization of the Palestinian land and salvage the prospects for achieving a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
• On 1 July 2009, demolition orders were issued to another seven Palestinian families in Occupied East Jerusalem, in the Wadi Hilwa neighbourhood of Silwan, a day after the demolition of a Palestinian home on the Mount of Olives rendered another 15 Palestinians homeless and resulted in the injury of several civilians by the occupying forces.
• Also on 1 July 2009, dozens of Israeli settlers took over farmland in Kafr al-Labad village near the city of Tulkarem, erecting tents there with the intention of establishing yet another illegal so-called settlement “outpost”.
• On 29 June 2009, it was reported that Israel had approved the construction of another 50 units in the “Adam” settlement, north of Occupied East Jerusalem, in order to “re-settle” settlers to be removed from the nearby “Migron outpost”. These new units are also reported to be part of a larger plan to construct at least another 1,400 units in the settlement.
• On 26 June 2009, a declaration was issued regarding the intention to expropriate another 2 per cent of West Bank land, amounting to more than 138,000 dunums (34,600 acres) of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley area.
• On 23 June 2009, it was revealed that the Israeli Defense Minister had approved the construction of 300 new units in the “Talmon” settlement.
• On 10 June 2009, 100 demolition orders were served to Palestinian families in the Al-Bustan neighbourhood of Occupied East Jerusalem, leading to violent clashes between the occupying forces and the neighbourhood’s residents who were protesting the demolition orders.
• • On 5 June 2009, Israeli occupying forces killed a Palestinian man, Yousef Aqil Srour, aged 35, when they opened fire on a demonstration by civilians against the continuing construction of the Wall in the village of Ni’lin, where weekly protests have been held against Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land and its construction of the Wall in the village in deviation of the 1967 Green Line. Several Palestinians have been killed by the occupying forces, and dozens of people, including international peace activists, have been injured, many critically, in similar protests against the Wall.
• On 3 June 2009, a group of Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian fields in an area in the northern West Bank, destroying at least 30 olive trees, an essential source of income and agricultural product for Palestinian families.
• On 28 May 2009, it was reported that leading rabbis linked to the Israeli settlement movement had issued calls upon soldiers in the occupying forces to disobey any orders to evacuate and dismantle “outposts”.
• Also on 28 May 2009, a group of Israeli settlers attacked two elderly Palestinian farmers, Abdallah Wahadin, aged 82, and Hammad Wahadin, aged 72, in Beit Ummar, near the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron), as they were farming their groves.
In addition to such colonization activities, the occupying Power continues its imposition of more than 600 checkpoints and obstacles to the movement of persons and goods throughout the West Bank, causing daily damage to the Palestinian socio-economic situation and causing daily humiliation and suffering for the Palestinian civilian population, whose freedom of movement, in addition to numerous other freedoms, is being egregiously violated by these unlawful, racist and arbitrary restrictions.
Further, as all are aware, such restrictions on the freedom of movement have reached obscene levels with Israel’s continuing illegal and totally inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is being imposed in collective punishment of the entire Palestinian civilian population and in contradiction to all norms and rules of international law and human decency. Continuation of this siege has deepened the poverty, trauma and misery being endured by the Palestinian people and has precluded any reconstruction from the devastation wrought upon Gaza by Israel’s vicious military aggression earlier this year.
The international community’s prolonged failure to uphold the rule of law vis-à-vis Israel has clearly created a permissive environment that has led only to more violations under the perception that its crimes will continue to be unpunished. Tangible, practical and serious measures by the international community are necessary to address this unending cycle of Israeli violations.
A complete and permanent cessation of settlement activities is imperative. A complete lifting of the blockade against the Gaza Strip is imperative. A complete end to all Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is imperative. Urgent and swift action by the international community, including the Security Council, is thus required, consistent with the responsibility to uphold the Charter, international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and United Nations resolutions, in order to bring the occupying Power into compliance with its legal obligations, ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilian population, and ultimately promote the achievement of peace and security.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 340 letters to you 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 22 May 2009 (A/ES-10/457-S/2009/269), 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.