New York – Israel should end the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, the UN humanitarian emergency coordinator said Tuesday.
Both Palestinian and Israeli civilians are victims of the on-going conflict, Valerie Amos said following last week’s visit to Israel and Gaza Strip. But she singled out the eviction of Palestinians from their homes as having ‘devastating, long-term consequences.’
‘Palestinians are utterly frustrated by the impact of Israeli policies on their lives,’ she said. ‘Their homes are regularly demolished. They cannot develop their communities.’
Her remarks came on the same day that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conceded for the first time that some Jewish settlements in the West Bank will be dismantled. But he also insisted that Jerusalem will remain united under Israel and rejected a complete return to 1967 borders.
Netanyahu was speaking to the US Congress in Washington.
Amos defended Palestinians’ right to move freely and in safety throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza so they can have access to services and resources for their economic well-being.
‘Freedom of movement is imperative for Palestinians to develop their economy and reduce dependence on humanitarian assistance,’ she said. She called for Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and allow economic development and reduce Gaza’s dependence on aid.
Israel’s building of the barrier separating it from the Palestinians has also caused an economic burden on the latter, she said.
She said the 700-km-long barrier, with 85 per cent inside the West Bank, has cut off Palestinians from basic services and access to their homes, and has made them dependent on humanitarian handouts.