Saturday, February 12, 2011

The UN human rights chief has sharply criticized Israel for ignoring the harm done to Palestinians by its illegal settlement policy and the construction of the apartheid wall.

Speaking at the end of a six-day visit to the region on Friday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that she had been shocked at the apathy among Israeli officials when she raised the issue of the suffering of Palestinians living near the illegal settlements or close to the towering apartheid wall, which cuts across the occupied West Bank. 

“I have been struck by the complacency with which the entirely-avoidable predicament of Palestinians affected by the wall and settlements is treated by Israeli authorities with whom I have discussed these issues,” Pillay said. 
She described the construction of the apartheid wall, built in the occupied territories of the West Bank, as "devastating on the social, economic and cultural rights” of 1.4 million Gazans living in dire conditions, DPA reported.

“The settlement of Israeli citizens in the occupied Palestinian territories is clearly prohibited under international law,” she said, stressing that settlements, which are illegal, “should be stopped altogether.”

She went on to say that these are not minor matters to be brushed aside. “They are clear-cut violations of human rights on a very large scale," she stated, describing how she had met a man whose house is entirely surrounded by an illegal settlement.

Pillay added that Israelis are terrorizing a large number of Palestinian civilians and doing a disservice to them by placing a major obstacle in the path of the Middle East talks.

She also called on Israel to end its "illegal" blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The UN rights chief's first visit to the West Bank and Gaza began on Sunday. source

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