Israeli Settlement Policy Illegal, UN Panel Says

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 1, 2013 9:59 PM EST

An independent fact-finding delegation under the aegis of United Nations Thursday said Israel has pursued a creeping annexation of the Palestinian territories through the creation of Jewish settlements and violated a multiple of international laws in view of human rights.

While presenting the findings in Geneva after a nearly six-month inquiry for the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Fact-finding delegation said that Israel's settlement policy particularly violated the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit a state from transferring its own civilian population into territory it has occupied, according to The New York Times.

The U.N. Human Rights Council assigned the three-member delegation in March 2012 to "investigate the implications of the Israel settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem."

 "Israel must ... cease all settlement activities without preconditions (and) must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers" from the occupied territories, the fact-finding delegation reported.

Urging to immediately halt the settlement activities and withdraw all the settlers, the three-member mission pointed out that because of the "settlements, Palestinians' human rights are being violated consistently and on a daily basis."

However, according to the New York Times, Israel's Foreign Ministry quickly dismissed the report as "counterproductive and unfortunate."

The ministry attacked the Human Rights Council saying it had "systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel."

Dismissing the report, Israel officials said that the only way to resolve the settlement issue was through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without preconditions.

The delegation said that they were unable to visit the West Bank as Israel was not cooperating with the delegation. They visited Jordanian Capital Amman instead of West Bank for testimonies.

According to the report filed by the panel, Israel had established about 250 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.

Palestinian officials and some settlement opponents in Israel applauded the report filed by the fact-finding mission.

The conflict between the two countries began in early 20th century and still continues despite a number of peace proposals and negotiations in the past.

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