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Date posted: February 21, 2011
By The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

The Palestinian Civil Society Organizations strongly condemns the United States veto on yesterdayís Security Council draft resolution that declares Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as Illegal and demands Israel to cease them. The resolution, which was supported by the other four permanent and the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, demanded that ďIsrael, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regardĒ. The US justified its decision saying that the resolution would harm chances for peace talks in spite of its recognition of the illegality of settlement.

The Palestinian Civil Society Organizations believe that the US veto is inconsistent with its declared position regarding settlement. Further, CSOs sees that the statements of the American officials in this respect are contradictory. Explaining the American reasons for the veto the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: ďwe reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activityĒ and considered that the ďContinued settlement activity violates Israelís international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peaceĒ. Based on Riceís statement it is settlement that hiders peace and not its condemnation. What we cannot understand is the US conviction that the settlement is illegal but at the same time views its condemnation as hindrance to peace efforts.

We believe that the basic rule that should guide any peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians is that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and that all settlements must be dismantled within the framework of any peace agreement that may be concluded between the two parties. PNGO would like to remind the international community in general and the US in particular that settlement constitutes war crime under international law and should not be the subject of negotiations. Under article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention ď[T]he Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.Ē The illegality of settlement was stressed by the International Court of Justice. In its advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Court concluded ďthat the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.Ē The United Nations has in different occasions stressed that the Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a threat to international peace and security. The reference here is to settlements and other illegal practices.

The Palestinian Civil Society Organizationís believe that the American veto has showed explicitly that the current US policy will only lead to more deterioration in the region.

Therefore, we urge all Palestinian institutions to reconsider its cooperation with US governmentís agencies and to protest against US policy toward the Palestinian People.

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