Israel Approves Thousands of Illegal Settler Housing Units in Occupied East Jerusalem

Re: 81/2011

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemn the approval of thousands of new settler housing units to be built in occupied East Jerusalem. Settlement activity constitutes an unambiguous violation of international law, and undermines the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

On 7 August 2011, 930 housing units in Har Homa C, 42 units and public buildings for Har Homa B, and all the necessary infrastructure such as roads, sewage and water lines were approved for construction. Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) was built in the late 1990s, and is already home to approximately 9,000 settlers. Har Homa’s location severs Bethlehem from East Jerusalem, inhibiting travel and territorial continuity between Palestinian towns and neighborhoods.

On 11 August 2011, Interior Minister Yishai approved a further 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo. Yishai also announced that in the coming days another 2,700 units will be approved in Pisgat Zeev (700) and Givat Hamatos (2000). This would bring the number of housing units approved in occupied East Jerusalem to over 5,200, and counting, in August alone.

East Jerusalem is recognized as occupied territory under international law. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 affirmed the illegality of acquisition of territory by force, and the status of East Jerusalem as occupied territory. The Security Council has repeatedly passed resolutions that any action to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure of the status of Jerusalem is patently illegal, and any actions in this regard are null and void.[1] Settlement activity is recognized as a war crime under the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Currently, there are over 200,000 settlers living in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s settlement activity exhibits a blatant disregard for the rule of law. PCHR affirm that this disregard for the rule of law, and the consequent violation of Palestinian’s fundamental rights, is a direct consequence of the pervasive impunity extended to the State of Israel by the international community. Until Israel, and responsible individuals, are held to account,

International law will continue to be systematically violated, and Palestinian civilians will continue to suffer the consequences.

PCHR strongly condemn all Israeli settlement activities and other arbitrary measures in occupied East Jerusalem, and:

  1. Call upon the international community to immediately intervene to compel the Israeli government to stop all settlement activities in the OPT, especially in occupied East Jerusalem;

  2. Confirm that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all decisions taken and plans and measures implemented by the Israeli occupation authorities in occupied East Jerusalem can never change the legal status of the city;

  3. Emphasize that all settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem constitute a war crime under international humanitarian law;

  4. Call for applying the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice on 08 July 2004, which considers that the annexation wall being built by Israel in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is illegal and calls for its dismantlement.

  5. Call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, jointly or individually, to fulfill their legal and moral obligations to ensure respect for the Convention by Israel in the OPT, according to Article 1 of the Convention. PCHR believe that the conspiracy of silence practiced by international community encourages Israel to act as a state above the law and to perpetrate more violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, including measures to create a Jewish demographic majority in occupied East Jerusalem; and

  6. Call upon the EU and/or Member States to activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which sets Israel’s respect for human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the two sides. PCHR appeal to the EU Member States to stop dealing with Israeli goods and commodities, especially those produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT.

[1] See, e.g., UN Security Council, Resolution 252 (1968), S/RES/252 of 21 May 1968; UN Security Council, Resolution 267 (1969), S/RES/267 of 3 July 1969; UN Security Council, Resolution 271 (1969), S/RES/271 of 15 September 1969; UN Security Council, Resolution 298 (1971), S/RES/298 of 25 September 1971; UN Security Council, Resolution 465 (1980), S/RES/465 of 1 March 1980; UN Security Council, Resolution 476 (1980), S/RES/476 of 30 June 1980;