x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE joins criticism of Israelis

The Government joins other Arab League members in criticising Israel for its settlements on Palestinian soil and other forms of economic persecution.

NEW YORK // The Government joined other Arab League members in criticising Israel for its settlements on Palestinian soil and other forms of economic persecution. During a meeting of the UN General Assembly's Second Committee, Ali Rashid al Mazrouei, a UAE delegate to the UN, said Israel was perpetrating "aggressive policies and war crimes" against Arabs. Arab League members are continuing to seek support for a draft Security Council resolution that would condemn settlement construction.

Mr Mazrouei said Israel's "illegal expansion policy" was aimed at "changing the demographic, legal and political reality of Palestinian territories" by expropriating land and natural resources, building the separation wall and continuing the settlements. "Closure and embargo policies are also leaving thousands stranded, unable to access their towns and work, and thus losing their source of income." Mr Mazrouei told delegates at the session on Monday that Israel's "tight grip" over Palestinians led to their poverty rate rising to 36.9 per cent, unemployment reaching 28.8 per cent and average incomes dropping five per cent last year.

"The Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories are still suffering from a serious and tragic humanitarian, economic and social crisis as a result of the ongoing Israeli occupation and the aggressive policies and war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces. "Israeli military incursions have not stopped and the Israeli army is still killing and detaining civilians and destroying property arbitrarily, including houses, agricultural land and infrastructure." Lebanon's envoy to the debate, Hassan Saleh, said Israel is continuing its policy of "nibbling on Arab lands", having demolished 2,200 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza over the past decade. "The construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to the construction of the separation wall, led to the confiscation of 3,292sq km of Palestinian lands from 1967 until today," Mr Saleh said. "From 1967 to 2000, Israeli forces and illegal settlers have uprooted a million olive trees, in addition, a large number of other fruit-bearing trees." Arab League members have long criticised the construction of Jewish communities on Arab soil. They stepped up activity in June by drafting a Security Council resolution calling for a halt to building in the settlement and the dismantling of completed homes. The draft was rejected by the US for lacking "balance" because it criticised Israel without placing obligations on Palestinians. Israel's delegate, Dr Eli Ben Tura, said Arab delegates presented a "one-sided and distorted political agenda". "Not once during the debate have we heard a reference to the simple fact that over the past seven years, Israeli citizens have been regularly attacked by Hamas rockets, rockets that are randomly launched against our towns and cities, rockets whose primary purpose is to kill and injure as many innocent civilians as possible," Dr Tura said. jreinl@thenational.ae