Israeli 'Judaisation' policy illegal: UN official

AFP , Sunday 12 Feb 2012

UN's Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, slammed Israel for systematically dispossessing Palestinians in occupied territories well as its Arab minority

Israel is dispossessing Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank as well as its Arab minority with a "strategy of Judaisation," a United Nations representative charged on Sunday.

Presenting her preliminary findings after a tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories this month, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, said she had seen a pattern of discrimination.

"From the Galilee and the Negev to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli authorities promote a territorial development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities, particularly affecting Palestinian communities, side by side with the accelerated development of predominantly Jewish settlements," she said.

"As a whole, it is clear that Israeli policies and practices for the Palestinian population in east Jerusalem and the West Bank violate international human rights and humanitarian law," she added.

The Palestinians have frequently accused Israel of trying to push Arab residents of east Jerusalem out of the city by making it almost impossible for them to obtain building permits.

Many simply build without the permits, but then face home demolitions that they say are both costly and traumatic.

In the West Bank, residents of areas under full Israeli military and civil control face similar restrictions, and the Bedouin community, both in the West Bank and inside Israel, accuses the government of trying to forcibly resettle them away from their traditional lands.

Rolnik's report also noted "the dire conditions faced by the population" in the Gaza Strip, highlighting "the detrimental effects of the blockade on the housing situation and on infrastructure."

Israel imposes strict rules on the import of items it says could be utilised by the Hamas rulers of Gaza, making construction in the coastal territory difficult.

Rolnik warned that Israel was "obligated under international law to find an appropriate housing solution for the protected persons, the Palestinian residents, living under its occupation."

Rolnik has spent the last two weeks conducting tours in the area and meeting with officials in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Her findings will be presented to Israel and the Palestinians, before being compiled into a final report due out in May 2013.

The initial findings presented on Sunday also accuse Israel of violating the rights of "low income persons of all identities, who find it increasingly difficult to obtain housing under existing policies."

Rolnik noted that the state controls 93 per cent of the land inside Israel, providing it with a "golden opportunity to promote housing," she said.

"You can control land prices here, unlike other countries," she said.

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