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We are at a critical stage in the resumed Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Although serious efforts are being exerted internationally, regionally and by the Palestinian leadership to advance the process, Israel, the occupying Power, persists in bad faith, in both word and deed, aggravating the volatile situation on the ground and threatening the viability of the process. Public confidence in and support for the negotiations, as well as the credibility of the process itself, are being dramatically eroded by incessant Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. Indeed, such illegal Israeli actions appear deliberately intended to provoke the Palestinian people, undermine the Palestinian leadership and destabilize the situation, with potentially far-reaching negative consequences.
On Saturday 22 March 2014, the Israeli occupying forces perpetrated another three extrajudicial killings. In a violent, pre-dawn military raid on the Jenin refugee camp, occupying forces killed three Palestinian men. Although claiming they were undertaking an “arrest operation”, the occupying forces used lethal force, killing Hamza Abu Al-Haija, age 22, Mahmoud Abu Zeina, age 17, and Yazan Jabarin, age 22, injuring at least 10 other Palestinian civilians, and causing widespread fear and anger throughout the camp, which has been brutally targeted by the occupation in the past, including in April 2002, when occupying forces brutally massacred at least 55 Palestinians in the camp. In this regard, we recall that the wilful killing of civilians by the occupying Power amounts to war crimes under international humanitarian law, particularly article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding grave breaches.
In recent days, dozens of Palestinian civilians have also been injured by the Israeli occupying forces in military raids in the Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, and in the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah. Civilians also continue to be the victims of vicious Israeli settler violence. In the recent period, this has included, inter alia, an attack by a gang of settlers on two Palestinian children, both 11 years old, near the village of Beit Furik, east of Nablus, on 20 March; an attack by settlers on Palestinian farmers working in their fields near the village of Burin, south of Nablus, on 23 March; and the killing of a 70-year old Palestinian man, Saleh Malihat, who was run over by a settler on 2 March near the city of Ramallah. We recall here the obligations of the occupying Power, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure the protection of the civilian population under its occupation and reiterate our calls for an end to such brutality against the Palestinian people.
Further inflaming tensions, Israel has continued unabated with its illegal and destructive settlement campaign throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. In addition to the announcements of the construction of the more than 1,000 settlement units referred to in our letter of 20 March 2014 (A/ES-10/621-S/2014/205), the Israeli Government has approved plans for the advancement of more than 2,200 other units in six Israeli settlements, including in the settlements of “Beit El” and “Ariel”, deep in the West Bank. These actions are being undertaken in direct and grave breach of international law, which deems all such colonization activities to be illegal, and in total contradiction to the objectives of the peace process, reaffirming Israel’s bad faith and intentions in this regard.
If implemented, such illegal measures would further fragment the contiguity of the Occupied State of Palestine, seriously jeopardizing the viability of the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders and sabotaging the small window of opportunity before us for achieving a final, just and peaceful solution to this conflict. We once again draw the international community’s attention to the dangers of this situation and call for the exertion of all efforts to salvage the prospects for peace, including by the Security Council according to its duty under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The international community must unequivocally demand that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all of its illegal actions against the Palestinian people. Israel must be compelled to abide by its obligations under international law, without exception, and by its commitments in the peace process, the terms of reference of which have been repeatedly reaffirmed and endorsed by the international community. Continued Israeli provocations and aggression can only further destabilize the situation on the ground, negating current peace efforts, with perilous ramifications. We thus reiterate our call at this critical time for urgent efforts to de-escalate tensions, to responsibly support the political process, and to salvage the chances for realizing peace.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 490 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 20 March 2014 (A/ES-10/621-S/2014/205) 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 being 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.