Dr. Erekat: A New Year of Israel’s Occupation Has Begun with Continued War Crimes

It is time to divest from all companies and organizations that are complicit in the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise

 Dr. Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, strongly condemned the recent Israeli plans to advance its colonization operations throughout the Occupied State of Palestine, which primarily aim to further divide and isolate Occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.  Dr. Erekat stressed that Israel’s illegal policies are based on the continued demolition of Palestinian homes with the intention to forcibly transfer the Palestinian population and replace them with more Israeli settlers. 

Dr. Erekat stressed that Israel’s illegal policies violate various fundamental human rights and constitute a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including war crimes and crimes against humanity under international criminal law. He also reconfirmed the urgency for “the International community to translate their verbal condemnations by taking decisive actions against the Israeli crimes that continue to undermine the two-state solution and a viable, contiguous Palestinian State.”

Among the various illegal Israeli settlement policies and activities, Peace Now recently exposed plans by the Israeli Ministry of Housing to construct more than 65,000 new illegal settlement units throughout Occupied Palestine. These plans include thousands of units in the Eastern Jerusalem Governorate; in the heart of the area designated to the E1 illegal settlement plan. In addition to the construction of hundreds of units in Givat Eitam illegal settlement, referred to as E2, in the south of Bethlehem.

Furthermore, the Israeli Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, has recently announced the annexation of Beit Al-Baraka Church compound into Gush Etzion illegal settlement, located south to Bethlehem. This comes parallel to recent demolitions targeting Palestinian communities and homes, including Abu Nwar Bedouin Community located in the Eastern Jerusalem Governorate. According to international humanitarian agencies, five Palestinian homes, an animal shelter, and five International donor-funded structures were destroyed. This has resulted in the displacement of five Palestinian families, including 26 people, the overwhelming majority children.

Dr. Erekat added: “We are encouraged by the courageous decision taken by the United Methodist Church to divest from a list of Israeli Banks that are involved in funding Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine. By doing so, the United Methodist Church is divesting from oppression to invest in justice.”

A new year of Israel’s occupation has begun with continued war crimes by further colonizing Palestine. Israel’s systematic policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing should be criticized and punished. This is the only way to see an end to the injustice committed against the land and people of Palestine. It is time for the International community to assume its responsibilities; to hold Israel accountable and to divest from all companies and organizations that are complicit in the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise,” Dr. Erekat concluded.

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