Ramallah, ALRAY - Latest statistics show that the number of Israeli settlements based on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has reached 503, of which 474 settlements locate in the West Bank and 29 others in Jerusalem, Hanna Issa, Secretary-General of the PA Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places, said.
Issa added, in a press statement on Monday, that the number of settlers residing in these settlements exceeded one million, indicating that Peace Movement in Israel says that settlement expansion on Palestinian lands in West Bank is growing higher than population growth itself in Israel.
He noted that the construction of the apartheid wall, that stretches from Jordan Valley in the north to the mountains of Hebron in the south with an area of more than 725 kilometres, is grabbing around 20% of the West Bank lands originally estimated at 5844 square kilometres.
He also pointed out that Israeli bypass roads established throughout the West Bank to connect settlements amount to 800 square kilometres.
How it is possible talking about an independent Palestinian statehood on pre-June 4th 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital and with a Palestinian census of population reaching currently five million people, while Israel continues its settlements in the West Bank and depriving indigenous people of their economy and their right to freedom and sovereignty, Issa wondered?
Issa confirmed that Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories is a grave violation of norms and international conventions, particularly article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention and article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
He clarified that the article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention states that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies, adding that the article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court considers the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory as war crimes.
Issa called for urgent international action to compel Israel to stop its settlement policies and its defiance of international wills aiming at brining peace and stability to the region.