AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 June 2005
On 5 June 2005, the 38th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, Al-Haq reminds the international community of the continuing occupation of these Palestinian territories in flagrant disregard of international law. In addition to measures that directly perpetuate the occupation, Israeli practices such as torture, mass arrests, killings, movement restrictions and house demolitions systematically violate Palestinians fundamental rights. This has had grave consequences for the Palestinian people at the human, economic, social and political levels and jeopardised the hope for a just and durable solution to the conflict.
Despite repeated condemnations of these illegal Israeli practices in UN resolutions and most recently in the International Court of Justices Advisory Opinion on the Wall, the international community has failed to take effective action to end the occupation. This inaction has been particularly pronounced over the past year as the international community muted its criticisms in light of political developments such as Israels unilateral Disengagement Plan. This serves to conceal the persistent obstruction by Israel of a just and durable solution to the conflict, most notably by the continued building of the Annexation Wall, construction and expansion of settlements, and sustained efforts to formalise the de facto annexation of East Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities have continued their efforts to change the demographic composition of East Jerusalem, over which Israel illegally extends jurisdiction. It is virtually impossible for Palestinians to get building permits, while new housing units for Israeli settlers are regularly being announced and constructed. Moreover, Palestinian houses built without permits are demolished. In pursuit of a policy to change the demographic balance in Jerusalem in favour of the Jewish population, Israeli authorities are striving to extend the city boundaries eastwards to incorporate Maale Adumim, one of the largest Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In addition, to further reduce the number of Palestinians, the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law has been repeatedly renewed. It prohibits the granting of residency or citizenship status to Palestinians from other parts of the OPT who are married to residents of East Jerusalem. These measures, combined with the construction of the Annexation Wall, which provides a physical barrier to Palestinians attempting to access their property in East Jerusalem, have allowed Israel to consolidate its illegal annexation.
The Annexation Wall is still being constructed in the OPT even though the International Court of Justice ruled it to be illegal under international law. The official justification that the Wall is necessary to prevent attacks inside Israel does not explain why it is largely being built on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, nor why it systematically includes illegal settlements on its Western side. Indeed, it is clearly intended to consolidate Israels de facto control over, and effectively confiscate, parts of the West Bank.
Much of the land over which Israeli authorities seek to maintain effective control is used for the network of settlements in the OPT, which are almost as old as the occupation itself. The settlement policy is a direct breach of the law of belligerent occupation and entails numerous human rights violations. Most notably, Israel, as the Occupying Power, has illegally confiscated an estimated two-thirds of the land in the OPT which has been principally affected to settlements and their supporting infrastructure, serving to confine Palestinians into separate and isolated population centres. This disrupts the contiguity of Palestinian land and creates an obstacle to the realisation of a viable and independent Palestinian state. The steady growth of settlements since 1967, which accelerated during the Oslo process, has increased the number of settlers to approximately 430,000 today. Close to half of these settlers are in the Jerusalem area, which remains, despite Israels claim to the contrary, part of the occupied West Bank.
In addition to these breaches, and despite the international community's professed commitment to the respect for international law in the OPT, no progress has been made on essential issues such as the rights of Palestinian refugees, permanent borders and the equitable use of water resources.
A just and durable solution to the conflict cannot be achieved without the firm implementation and enforcement of international law, including the relevant UN resolutions. The longer the occupation continues, the harder it will be to achieve such a solution. While the international community remains inactive, the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people are steadily chipped away.
Al-Haq calls on the international community to take immediate action, in accordance with their obligations under international law, to bring an end to the sufferings of the Palestinian people by ending the Israeli occupation.
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