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Friday 25th
posted by James Tweedie in World

ISRAELI government statements on a new law relating to West Bank settlements amount to “annexation” of the occupied territory, Palestinian human rights groups protested yesterday.

Adalah (Justice), the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, was commenting on Tel Aviv’s response on Monday to a legal petition against the controversial Settlements Regularisation Law.

Adalah, the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre (JLAC) and the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza had filed a joint petition to Israel’s Supreme Court in February demanding that the legislation be ruled unconstitutional.

They argued that the law places West Bank settlements — which are illegal under international law — on the same footing as those in the formally annexed territories of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The three groups argued that this claim of equivalence was in violation of international law.

Yesterday, they said the response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “essentially confirms the state’s application of Israeli civil law, rather than international humanitarian law, to a territory that is occupied and administered by the Israeli military.”

Adalah, in its statement, added: “The state’s position amounts to a de facto annexation of the West Bank. It ignores the fact that the area is occupied territory under Israeli military control.”

The group said the government had suspended the rule of international law in the occupied territories and was applying Israeli law outside its effective jurisdiction.

“With this law, Israel grossly violates international law, preferring both its own illegitimate interests as the occupying power and those of Israeli Jewish settlers over the rights of Palestinian residents,” Adalah said.

“We believe that the Supreme Court must make a swift decision to invalidate all of the clauses of the law.”

The accusation coincided with US President Donald Trump’s special peace envoy — and son-in-law — Jared Kushner arriving to meet Mr Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Kushner claimed that Mr Trump was “very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area.”

But Mohammed Alloul, deputy leader of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said: “The US envoys come empty-handed.

“That’s why we will ask them whether they have answers about the basic issues. We will not deal with marginal issues.”