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Time for the Palestinians to take charge... By Masood

04 February, 2013

"Israeli settlements are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids transfer of civilian population into occupied territory" is this anything new? No, this is what the whole world has known for decades but it was just reiterated by the United Nation Human Rights Commission's (UNHRC) appointed fact finding mission on Israeli settlements. However, the report goes beyond the usual condemnation of Israel it asks other nations, agencies and companies to break ties with the settlement project. Most importantly, the report concludes that the Rome Statute establishes the International Court's jurisdiction over the transfer of population in the occupied Palestine territory.

In my opinion, the ball is now in the Palestinians' court because they should not expect the US or EU to take Israelis to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on criminal charges. Only Palestinians can decide the way forward provided they are ready to face the expected punitive reaction from Israel. It is a clear cut case for the ICC, On the eve of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, there were around 200,000 settlers in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem; now half a million settlers are living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem alone. There are 127 settlements in the West Bank with dozens of Jewish outposts that are being changed into settlements at convenience and at regular intervals.

Shall we expect a show of unity and courage on the part of the Palestinians to sue the Israelis who are responsible for what the UN report calls a "creeping annexation"? We should congratulate the UNHRC fact-finding mission, which also includes Pakistan's human rights activist Asma Jahangir for such a forceful report. The world is waiting for the Palestinians to take their destiny into their own hands.

MASOOD KHAN
Jubail, Saudi Arabia

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