Switzerland pressures Israel over settlements
The Swiss foreign ministry calls on Israel to end all forms of settlement in occupied east Jerusalem.Geneva -- Switzerland on Wednesday became the latest country to pressure Israel over its activity in occupied east Jerusalem, calling on the Jewish state to end "all forms of settlement".
The Swiss foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned by the destruction of Palestinian houses near the old city in east Jerusalem as well as by planned evictions".
In a statement, it called on the "Israeli government to immediately stop those operations and end all forms of settlement of the occupied Palestinian territories".
The ministry also said Israel should "not proceed with construction of new housing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Palestinian property".
"Israeli settlement and the destruction of houses in the occupied Palestinian territories constitute a violation of international humanitarian law," the ministry said.
There was no military justification for home demolitions and evictions, it said, adding that its demands had been sent directly to Israeli authorities.
Israel has come under intense diplomatic heat over its settlement activity in occupied east Jerusalem, with the European Union and Russia warning it not to violate a Middle East peace plan.
The warnings came after it emerged that planning authorities had given the green light to a project to build 20 new apartments on the site of a former hotel in the Arab half of the Holy City.
Despite the criticism, Israel insisted that its "right" to all of Jerusalem was not up for discussion.
"Israel is working and will continue to work in accordance with its vital national interests, especially with respect to Jerusalem," said Danny Ayalon, deputy foreign minister.
"Our right to Jerusalem includes its development and that is not subject to debate."
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community.
AFP / Expatica