The decision by Israel’s so-called Minister of Defense, Naftali Bennett, to expand and create “nature reserves” in the occupied West Bank is a blatant act of annexation and land theft that violates international law and basic Palestinian rights, today said Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
“These so-called reserves are the practical application of Israel’s accelerated and de facto annexation, land grab, and colonization targeting Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. 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,” she said in a statement.
“Bennett made no secret of his intentions, which are to strengthen and entrench the illegal settlement regime. 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,” added Ashrawi.
“Israel’s policy of displacement and replacement in the service of the ‘Greater Israel’ agenda is in overdrive thanks to the partnership and blind ideological support of the current American Administration. This irresponsible alliance is emboldening Israel to make a mockery of the rules-based international order and to attempt to normalize its rogue behavior and encourage other rogue states with extraterritorial aspirations to disregard international law with impunity,” said the PLO official.
“Israel’s lawless behavior, impunity and expansionism threaten 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 behavior is confronted with real consequences, including sanctions,” Ashrawi concluded her statement.