‘Blatant act of annexation’ – Ashrawi slams Israeli ‘nature reserve’ land grab

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Palestinian villagers in Ras Karkar resist Israeli troops' attempts to clear land to make way for an illegal settlement

ISRAEL is creating ‘nature reserves’ in the occupied West Bank and this is ‘a blatant act of annexation and land theft that violates international law and basic Palestinian rights,’ said Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) yesterday.

‘These so-called reserves are the practical application of Israel’s accelerated and de facto annexation, land grab, and colonisation targeting Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley,’ Ashrawi said.

Ashrawi added: ‘Israel is carrying out silent annexation of Palestinian land to ensure the permanent denial of the Palestinian people’s basic rights to freedom and justice. It is criminal as well as morally and politically reprehensible.’

Israel’s Minister of Defence, Naftali Bennett, ‘made no secret of his intentions, which are to strengthen and entrench the illegal settlement regime’, she said.

Ashrawi continued: ‘This is the very regime that is currently under review by the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court because its establishment, expansion, and entrenchment is a violation of the Rome Statute.

‘As such, Bennett’s announcement is an affront to the International Criminal Court as well as the international community, which rejects and opposes the acquisition of territory by force.

‘Israel’s lawless behaviour, impunity and expansionism threatens Palestinian rights and international stability.

‘The international community has a standing legal obligation to put an end to such escalating and grave violations of international law.

‘States must have the moral clarity and courage to ensure that Israel’s lawless behaviour is confronted with real consequences, including sanctions,’ Ashrawi concluded in her statement.

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