The UK, France and the EU have all condemned plans by the government of Israel to build nearly 2000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, all three insisting that all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under International law.
In a strongly-worded statement released on Sunday, the French consulate in occupied Jerusalem condemned moves toward the construction of the 1,936 units, stating that the decision to green light the project “comes at a troubling time of accelerated settlement on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.” France further insisted that Israel begin to comply with international law and put an end to all existing colonial projects in-line with UN Security Council Resolution 2334, stating that Israel should “renounce these projects and all those that undermine the two-state solution.”
“Settlements in all forms are illegal under international law, and specifically UN Security Council Resolution 2334. They heighten tensions on the ground and undermine the conditions for a just and lasting settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the two-state solution”French consulate in occupied Jerusalem
The announcement of the new colonies comes as the International Criminal Court (ICC) continues to debate its jurisdiction ahead of the opening of proceedings against the Israeli government for crimes committed in the Palestinian Territories, crimes which undoubtedly include the programme of settlement building which is a grave violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the article stating clearly that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Despite this clear ruling in international law, over 600,000 Israeli settlers live in over 230 colonial settlements that have been constructed since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The United Kingdom also condemned the move, with the British Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Andrew Murrison, stating that the “UK condemns the Israeli government’s advancement of yet more plans for over 1,900 housing units across the West Bank” and reaffirming that “it is the UK’s longstanding position that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the viability of the two-state solution,” adding that Israel must “halt settlement expansion immediately.”
Adding their own voice to the chorus of criticism was the European Union, a spokesman saying that “all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law” and that the EU supports the “resumption of a meaningful process towards the two-State solution”.
“We call on the government of Israel to fully comply with international law, end all settlement activity on occupied territories and related actions. Violence by settlers on Palestinian civilians and their property has to be stopped and prevented. The European Union also reiterates that it will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides.”Spokesman for the EU
Alongside the UK, France and the EU, the majority of the international community also consider the Israeli colonisation program to be illegal under international law.
Despite the illegality of the colonial project, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that he will begin the process of annexing the colonies in the West Bank should he continue as Prime Minister. The plan has been endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump and was seen as a key election pledge before Netanyahu’s second election campaign this year.
Despite decades of international condemnation and pressure, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980 and 2016, the apartheid state continues to defy international opinion and the law, continuing their expansion into the occupied territories and piecemeal genocide of both Palestinian people and their culture.
Main Image: Two young women attending a protest in London over Israel’s massacre of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza, April 2018 | Alisdare Hickson