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UN calls on Israel to "change policy" after take-over of West Bank land

BEIRUT |, with agencies - January 22, 2016, 09h24

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for “substantial policy changes on the ground” by Israel, voicing deep concern at reports that the Government has declared of 370 acres in the occupied West Bank south of Jericho as so-called “state land.”

“If implemented, this declaration would constitute the largest land appropriation by Israel in the West Bank since August 2014,” a statement issued by his spokesman said on Wednesday night.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call for substantial policy changes on the ground by Israel that will improve the lives of Palestinians. Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict.”

The two-state solution forms the main plank of efforts by the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States, to solve the Middle East crisis, with two states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.

On the other hand, Human Rights Watch this week called on businesses to stop operating in Israeli settlements.

"More than a half million Israeli settlers live in 237 settlements throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Successive Israeli governments have facilitated this process, but businesses also play a critical role in establishing and expanding settlements, and enabling them to function", the organization stated, on the occasion of the release of a report entitled “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights”. The 162-page report documents how settlement businesses facilitate the growth and operations of settlements.

"These businesses depend on and contribute to the Israeli authorities’ unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources. They also benefit from these violations, as well as Israel’s discriminatory policies that provide privileges to settlements at the expense of Palestinians, such as access to land and water, government subsidies, and permits for developing land," HRW said, while calling on businesses to "stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities".

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