A UN human rights investigator today accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem and cast doubt that the Israeli government could accept a Palestinian state in the current climate.
He spoke against a backdrop of deadlocked peace talks and accelerating Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem which Palestinians say is dimming their hope of establishing a viable state on contiguous territory.
Israel says Palestinian refusal to recognise it as a Jewish state is the main obstacle. US president Barack Obama this week pressed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to help break the impasse, saying both sides must take political risks before the April 29th deadline for a framework deal.
Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told a news conference that Israeli policies bore “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing”.
“Every increment of enlarging the settlements or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations.”
Asked about his accusation of ethnic cleansing, Mr Falk said that more than 11,000 Palestinians had lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1996 due to Israel imposing residency laws favouring Jews and revoking Palestinian residence permits.
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