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Netanyahu visit: Gordon Brown should oppose illegal settlements

Silence about illegal settlements would ‘make mockery’ of international law

Ahead of his meeting with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Amnesty International has called on Gordon Brown to completely oppose all illegal settlements by Israel in Palestinian territories.

The meeting in London tomorrow (25 August) is being billed as part of key discussions of the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, extensive building projects that are illegal under humanitarian law.

Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories violates international law, notably Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transfer of the population of the occupying power into occupied territory. Yet since 1967 Israel has settled nearly half a million Jewish Israelis in the occupied West Bank, including more than 200,000 in occupied East Jerusalem.

Some 140 settlements have been established for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis on confiscated Palestinian land as part of a discriminatory government policy. Settlers receive generous housing allowances and tax incentives from the government and protection by the Israeli army.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“Under cover of heavily publicised ‘dismantlement’ operations where an occasional Israeli ‘outpost’ on Palestinian land is taken down, the Israeli authorities have for years been quietly supporting a never-ending expansion of illegal settlements.

“Settlements are war crimes under international law and are part of a web of human rights violations affecting every aspect of life for the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

“If Gordon Brown is not prepared to tell the Israeli PM face to face that Israeli settlements are illegal, it makes a mockery of international law.

“It is no exaggeration to say that there can be no justice and no lasting peace in the Middle East without a reversal of the illegal settlements programme. This means not just a theoretical ‘freeze’ but concrete steps to start removing settlements unlawfully established on Palestinian land, as required under outstanding UN resolutions.”

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