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I am compelled to alert you about the escalating tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as a result Israel’s illegal policies and practices of military aggression and colonization and its continuous provocations and incitement against the Palestinian people. Recent developments in this regard are clearly endangering the extremely fragile situation on the ground as well as the slim opportunity before us for the revival of the peace process, which the international community is concertedly trying to promote.
Over the weekend, the Israeli occupying forces killed four Palestinian civilians in the Occupied West Bank, all four of them in the Nablus area and within a span of 24 hours. On Saturday, 20 March, the occupying forces shot at civilians in the village of Iraq Buren who were participating in a demonstration against ongoing Israeli colonization measures, rampant Israeli settler violence and harassment, and imposed restrictions on access by Palestinian civilians to their farmlands in the area. Two Palestinian boys were shot by the occupying forces, receiving wounds to the head and chest. Both victims, ages 16 and 17, Mohammad Qadous and Osayed Qadous, died of their wounds. This was followed by the Israeli killing of another two Palestinian youths, Mohammad Faisal Qawariq and Salah Mohammad Qawariq, both age 19 and cousins, in the village of A’wrta on Sunday, 21 March.
These killings have not only deeply grieved and angered the victims’ families and communities, but have affected the entire Palestinian population, which has been disturbed by the escalation of Israel’s military raids and violence in Palestinian towns and villages, including against non-violent and peaceful demonstrators, and has been reminded anew of the brutality and absolute disregard for life by the occupying Power against the civilian population under its occupation. Moreover, as cautioned by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in recent days, such acts of aggression threaten to seriously destabilize the situation on the ground, undermining Palestinian efforts and achievements in promoting security and law and to fuel another deadly cycle of violence, which must be avoided at all cost. Indeed, such Israeli actions are totally contradictory to our efforts to calm the situation and salvage the prospects for peace.
In addition, I must draw your attention to the fact that the Israeli occupying forces launched missile strikes against the besieged and already devastated Gaza Strip late Monday, injuring four Palestinians, including one woman. The strike was launched against an area in Gaza City, causing damage as well to three homes in the vicinity of the targeted building.
At the same time, the Israeli Government continues its absolute defiance of the vocal international demands for a cessation of all Israeli settlement activities, including and particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem, and continues its provocations and incitement in this regard. Gravely breaching international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions, and in a flagrant and arrogant response to the clear and firm position underscored recently by the Quartet in Moscow, Israel continues its illegal attempts to alter the character, status and demographic composition of Occupied East Jerusalem. Settlement construction continues, the transfer of settlers continues, Wall construction continues, the confiscation of properties continues and the eviction of the indigenous Palestinian residents continues as Israel continues its illegal and aggressive attempts to Judaize East Jerusalem and thus prejudge the outcome of final status peace negotiations.
Moreover, despite the unanimous international rejection of Israel’s de facto annexation of East Jerusalem, which is not recognized by the international community, and despite the strong calls for immediate and complete cessation of all colonization measures, Israel also continues to lay claim to East Jerusalem in direct contravention of United Nations resolutions, the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the international legal principle regarding the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. This is illustrated again and again by the remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in direct challenge to international law and the international community, including his latest such repugnant remark that “Our policy towards Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli Governments in the past 42 years and it has not changed. From our point of view, construction in Jerusalem is like construction in Tel Aviv”.
Clearly, such remarks indicate that this Israeli Government has no intention of abandoning its illegal settlement campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and intends to continue the illegal policies and practices it has pursued in this regard for over 42 years of its illegitimate military occupation since 1967. The continuation of such unlawful policies and such inflammatory provocations are destroying the opportunity to launch a serious political process and negotiations towards the achievement of the two-State solution of an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the 1967 borders.
Every stone placed in a settlement, every settler transferred and every provocative, reckless and reprehensible comment by Israel threatens the viability of the two-State solution and the potential for the revival of the peace process itself, which the international community as a whole, including the United States of America, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations, as members of the Quartet, the Arab States and all other concerned nations, are collectively and determinedly trying to promote. Moreover, they threaten to intensify and widen the unrest, with vastly negative repercussions in the region and beyond. All of these Israeli measures, actions and provocations must thus be addressed in the most firm, consistent and serious manner. We are clearly at a critical juncture and the international community, including the Security Council, must rise to the challenge to uphold its responsibilities in this regard, including by taking practical measures to compel Israel to cease immediately its illegal military and settlement activities and collective punishment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and finally commit to the pursuit of a just and lasting peace settlement.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 362 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 19 March 2010 (A/ES-10/482-S/2010/148), 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.