Israeli settlements expand by record amount: UN

Rights body chief says settlements amounted to transfer by Israel of its own population, which is a war crime.

GENEVA (Reuters): Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have expanded by a record amount and risk eliminating any practical possibly of a Palestinian state, the U.N. human rights chief said on Friday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said that the growth of Israeli settlements amounted to the transfer by Israel of its own population, which he reiterated was a war crime. The U.S. Biden administration said last month the settlements were “inconsistent” with international law after Israel announced new housing plans in the occupied West Bank.

“Settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State,” Turk said in a statement accompanying the report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in late March.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said that the report should have included the deaths of 36 Israelis in 2023. “Human rights are universal, yet Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism are ignored by the Office (of the High Commissioner) time and time again,” it said in a statement.

The 16-page report, based on the U.N.’s own monitoring as well as other sources, documented 24,300 new Israeli housing units in the occupied West Bank during a one-year period through to end-October 2023, which it said was the highest on record since monitoring began in 2017.

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