Qatar urged the United Nations on Sunday to investigate Jewish settlement expansion in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, warning that Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories was unacceptable.
“We must act quickly to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem,” said Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in his opening remarks at the International Conference on Jerusalem in Doha.
The conference, which brings together international and regional experts and officials, is intended to address what the Palestinians warn is an Israeli push to cement its control over the occupied eastern sector of the Holy City.
In his remarks, Sheikh Hamad called on the U.N. to “investigate the measures Israel has taken to Judaize Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967.”
He said such an investigation would constitute the first step towards “forcing Israel to reverse those measures.”
Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, has proved one of the thorniest issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians.
Direct talks that began in September 2010 broke down shortly after they started over the issue, when Israel declined to renew a partial settlement freeze and the Palestinians said they would not continue talks without a new moratorium.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and adamantly reject Jewish settlement construction in the territory.
They accuse the Jewish state of building settlement neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, while denying Palestinian building permits and revoking their residency in a bid to rid the city of Arab residents.
Sheikh Hamad warned that public opinion in the Arab world, where months of popular protests overthrew four long-time strongmen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen “has awakened and will not accept” anything “less than a just peace based on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
“Is it conceivable that the people that could no longer tolerate oppression at home will accept the oppression of a foreign occupation?” he said.
Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it later in a move never recognized by the international community. It claims all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who was attending the two-day conference told participants that “the measures of annexation ... are null and void. East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine.”