New Report from The United Nations Condemns Israeli Settlement Activity

A newly released report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) condemns Israeli settlement activity and paints a dark picture of the economic landscape currently facing the inhabitants of Palestinian territories. In addition to calling for a halt to all settlement activity in the future, the UN also calls Israel’s continued actions a “major obstacle” holding back the economic development of Palestine and subsequently enough, the prospects of peace in the region.

The report comes in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Six Days War of 1967, during which, in a series of battles on 3 separate borders, Israel went on to defeat 5 countries to capture territory and grow their borders. More specifically, Israel defeated Jordan and Iraq to the East to capture “The West Bank” and “Jerusalem,” defeated Syria and Lebanon to the North to gain control of the “Golan Heights” and Egypt to the South to gain control of the “Gaza Strip.” These are the “disputed or occupied territories” as we now refer to them today.

While it has become “controversial” to talk negatively about anything Israel does these days, the fact of the matter is that since 1967 Israel has continued to grow and prosper as a country and peoples, all while asserting their military dominance across the Middle East. Over the same time however, the conditions and quality of life facing Palestinians in the region continues to deteriorate. Essentially, it is this ever growing disparity between the two “countries” that is considered the primary hindrance preventing a two state solution from coming to fruition.

This fact is even directly cited within the United Nations report this week, when they state that Instead of the hoped-for two-State solution envisaged by the United Nations and the international community, occupation is currently even more entrenched, while its complex socio economic toll has worsened over time.

Before Barack Obama refused to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution blocking the construction of new settlements in the disputed territories for the first time in December of 2016, world leaders had largely remained silent on these issues. However, this trend finally appears to be reversing. Not only does the United Nations now publicly state that Israel’s activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of International Law,” but their new strongly worded report also says that dating back to 1967 Israel has continued to suppress the human potential of Palestinians and has also denied them the right to development.

However, in retaliation for the UN and Barack Obama’s passage of Resolution 2334 last December, not only did Israel immediately suspend their multi-million dollar investments into various UN agencies, but the Israeli government also proceeded to embark on a much more aggressive settlement timeline in the future, doing the exact opposite of what the UN had called on them to do. Not only by speeding up construction projects currently underway, but adding more projects overall than had previously been planned.

As this weeks UNCTAD report eludes to, over the course of 2017 Israel has intensified the expansion of settlements and housing units in the occupied West Bank. Also pointing out that Further plans have been announced to build more than 5,000 new housing units and for the retroactive legalization of 4,000 units in settlements and outposts.” 

The report also went on to address the growing disparity in the region, directly resulting from Israeli settlement activity over the decades. Pointing out how In recent years, the settler population growth rate has not only surpassed the rate in Israel but also the growth rate of the Palestinian population. As a result of this, it is said that the Israeli settler population has more than doubled since 1995, and currently stands at between 600,000 and 750,000 people.

Logistically speaking, more land and homes for Jewish settlers means less land and homes for Palestinians. In fact, for construction to begin on new Israeli settlements has often required existing Palestinian structures to first be demolished. According to the UN, In 2016, more Palestinian structures were demolished in the West Bank than in any other year” previously. According to their statistics, the UN indicates that Israel has demolished or seized 1,094 Palestinian structures resulting in the displacement of over 1,600 Palestinians – half of whom were children.

As if this were not enough, this weeks report also addresses the growing disparity between how Jewish and Palestinians are treated under Israeli law. Pointing out how Palestinians in the West Bank often remain subject to many forms of violence by settlers, whom are then in turn offered preferential treatment by the Israeli Government. For example, look no further than the treatment of several Israeli soldiers known to have executed Palestinian activists in recent years.

The UNCTAD report also points out how There are two parallel legal systems in the occupied West Bank, namely the domestic law of Israel with more guarantees for defendants is applied to Israeli settlers, while Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. Restrictions on the freedom of movement and access of Palestinians continue to be stringent near settlements.

Lastly, UNTCAD’s report went on to chronicle the Palestinian economy and how it has been effected and influenced by all of the activity referenced above. In the UN’s estimation, Israel has had a “direct impact” upon the current economic predicaments currently facing Palestinians in the region, including skyrocketing poverty, a lack of resources and some of the worlds highest unemployment rates.

You can read the UN’s Full Report Here:

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Categories: Human Rights, United Nations

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