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Middle East News
Geneva Conference Raises Concerns Over Occupation of Palestinian Territory
From the Wall Street Journal of Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:38:22 EST

ZURICH—Representatives at an international conference in Switzerland on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” over the continued Israeli occupation of parts of the Palestinian territory, reiterating that it violated international humanitarian law.

The representatives at the meeting in Geneva called on Israel to fully respect the Fourth Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The convention is a body of international law governing warfare.

The conference participants “express their deep concern about the impact of the continued occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” according to a declaration released after the close of the meeting. The declaration, which included 10 points, was adopted by consensus of the 126 participants.

Israel and the U.S. didn’t attend the conference

The participants also raised concerns about other steps taken by Israel, including the closure of the Gaza Strip. The declaration said the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank was illegal. The participants also expressed concern over recurring violations of international humanitarian law by all parties in the conflict and the “great suffering” of the civilian populations in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The convention is designed to regulate hostilities and protect civilians caught up in armed conflicts. Switzerland hosted the conference in its capacity as Depositary of the Geneva Conventions. It includes provisions that all parties in a conflict must distinguish between civilian and military targets. Acts such as attacks on schools and other civilian buildings, excessive destruction of infrastructure and use of noncombatants as human shields are prohibited.

All serious violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and all those responsible should be brought to justice, according to the declaration.

The meeting was held following the recommendation of the United Nations General Assembly at the request of Palestinian authorities.

The Palestinians were due on Wednesday to submit a U.N. resolution that demands “an end of the Israeli occupation of all territories occupied in 1967 and sets a time frame to complete the withdrawal of the occupation,” thePalestine Liberation Organization said earlier this month.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Rome on Monday to discuss the bid, which the Israeli leader called a “diktat.” Mr. Netanyahu vowed Monday to scuttle the latest effort at a Security Council resolution, which he characterized as bullying and harmful.

Write to John Revill at john.revill@wsj.com



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