Israel ‘ethnically cleansing’ occupied West Bank: Israeli lawmaker
An Israeli lawmaker has accused Tel Aviv of committing “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank amid a rise in the demolition of Palestinian houses and buildings in the area.
Dov Khenin told Sky News on Sunday that Israel’s demolition of Arab structures in the so-called Area C of the West Bank is an attempt to clear the area and prepare it for Israelis to settle there in the future.
Area C, which is under full Israeli control, covers 360,000 hectares (890,000 acres) of land, equal to 60 percent of the West Bank’s area.
The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians divides the West Bank into Area A under full Palestinian control, Area B under shared Israeli-Palestinian control and Area C.
Israel is committing an “ethnic cleansing in a very sophisticated way” in the occupied West Bank, Khenin said.
Israeli authorities rejected Khenin’s remarks and claimed that the demolitions are taking place because the structures being destroyed do not have building permits.
UN fieldworker Matthew Ryder has said, though, that getting approvals for buildings is “virtually impossible” for the Palestinians.
“Israel’s own figures show that, between 2010 and 2014, Palestinians in the area that Israel controls only managed to obtain 33 permits for building on their land — that’s something like 1.5% of the permits that are actually granted,” Ryder said.
Recent figures released by the United Nations show the Israeli military has more than tripled the pace of the demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank over the past three months.
The world body said the average demolitions have risen to 165 on the monthly basis since January.
The demolitions have raised alarm among world diplomats and human rights groups over what they regard as the Tel Aviv regime’s continued violation of international law.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
All Israeli settlements are illegal under the international law. However, Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansions in the occupied territories.