“Israel revives plan to build 500 settler units”
Israel ‘Revives’ Eastern Jerusalem Settler Homes Plan
Israeli authorities on Wednesday revived plans to build 500 new homes for settlers in the Israeli-occupied Eastern Jerusalem, a first since the US presidential election. “This morning, the local planning and building committee made the decision to advance plans for 500 units in Ramat Shlomo,” the Ir Amim anti-settlement NGO said, the West Australian reported. The plans had been on hold since 2014, it said. The Jerusalem municipality said the “plans in question are not new and were approved years ago.”
More than 200,000 Israelis now live in communities in Eastern Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed. The move was never recognized by the international community, which regards all settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, including those in Eastern Jerusalem. Betty Herschman of Ir Amim said the latest announcement had particular significance as it was the first since Donald Trump’s upset US presidential election win earlier this month. Israeli right-wingers have been hoping that the maverick Republican will prove far less critical of settlement expansion than President Barack Obama. MEPs slate EU support for Israeli crimes
The prosecutor’s office at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has just released a report on the status of its preliminary examinations into possible war crimes, including allegations against Israel.
Palestine is one of 10 situations the court is currently examining. A preliminary examination is the first step in the court’s process to decide whether or not to open a full investigation that could lead to indictments and prosecutions.
All parties – the Israeli government and Palestinian armed groups – have been accused of war crimes and any act committed after 13 June 2014 is subject for review. This includes Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza that left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
This is the ICC prosecutor’s second report since it opened the preliminary examination into the Palestine situation in January 2015.
It comes as the court is facing its most serious crisis of credibility and confidence since it was founded in 1998. In recent weeks, South Africa, Gambia and Burundi announced their intention to withdraw from the court. African member states have long accused the court of bias: the vast majority of its investigations and cases involve African countries.
Considering that some preliminary examinations can last as long as 12 years before the ICC decides whether to open an investigation, the one related to Palestine is still relatively new.
The annual reports are the only official updates from the ICC on its cases, and they do not contain any suggestions on how the prosecutor’s office is leaning: they conservatively state facts and allegations.
However, changes from last year’s report are worth noting – they suggest that as the prosecutor’s office gathers facts, it is developing a fuller picture of events.
This year, the prosecutor reports that it has received a total of 86 communications, up from 66 last year, and says it is closely monitoring current developments in Palestine. The office has created a database of 3,000 alleged crimes and incidents that occurred in the 2014 war in Gaza to help it analyze patterns of attacks.
The Palestinian Authority is sending the court monthly reports about ongoing crimes.
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