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Policy Paper (1): US Recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as Legal

From 1967 to  2019, more than 120 permanent Israeli settlements were established in the West Bank on Palestinian land, noted International United Nations Watch.

The US Recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as Legal and the Role of the UN

Introduction

From 1967 to  2019, more than 120 permanent Israeli settlements were established in the West Bank on Palestinian land. This came in violation of international law, which calls on the occupying power not to engage in changing the demographic character of the area it is occupying. Israel did the exact opposite: enabling  settlers to settle in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, while coercing  Palestinians to move out whether  by deportations, house demolitions, imprisonments or  restrictions on their freedom of movement. Palestinians have long been victimized by  this policy, their lands being confiscated and their homes  being demolished time after time as  they attempt to obtain needed permits from the Israeli authorities.

The United Nations (UN) has  repeatedly affirmed, through Security Council and General Assembly  resolutions, that the Israeli  settlements are illegal under international law. According to the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, “there are 132 settlements and 113 outposts - settlements built without official authorization - in the West Bank.”[1] Peace Now notes  that these settlements and outposts are home to  more than 413,000 settlers, a number that  increases  every year. Over time but especially in nthe last 15 years,  the Israeli government  has facilitated this spread, giving  the required  permits to expand these settlements at the expense of Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israel has adopted a policy of denying Palestinians, especially those in East Jerusalem and area C of the West Bank, permits to build new houses, while at the same time supporting  Israeli settler expansion. Since 1967, Israel has demolished thousands of Palestinian houses and facilities under the pretext of claiming they were built without a permit. This bogus and imbalanced policy meant that more Palestinians ended up homeless as  over the years more and more Israeli settlers moved  into the West Bank. . The international community has  always been critical of Israel for building settlements in the West Bank. Until recently, this included  the United States, which has since  reversed its policy and now considers  the Israeli settlements  in the West Bank to be legal.

 The United Nations has  repeatedly condemned Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, both in  the UN Security Council and the General Assembly. I In 2016,  the US abstained when  the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 (2016) in which the Council demanded Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities.[2] Israel harshly criticized the US move under the Obama administration, subsequently  expressing its  readiness to work with the new Trump administration, which clearly favoured an unquestioning  pro-Israel policy unlike that adopted by any previous  US administration.

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[1] BBC, Israel and the Palestinians: Can the settlement issue be solved? BBC, London, 18 November 2019. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38458884

[2] The United Nations. The Question of Palestine. Available at: https://www.un.org/unispal/data-collection/security-council/