RAMALLAH, Monday, February 13, 2023 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates today said it rejects what it described as Israel’s “criminal” decision to expand its colonial settlement enterprise.

“The State of Palestine rejects, in the strongest terms, Israel’s ongoing war crimes and acquisition of territory by force, including its criminal decision to expand its colonial settlement enterprise,” it said in a statement. “The State of Palestine warns that Israel’s declared annexationist policies violate the territorial integrity and independence of the State of Palestine and threaten regional and international peace and security.”

While stressing that all settlements are illegal under international law and are war crimes, the Ministry said that “Israel’s isolated efforts to legitimize its illegal settlement enterprise, in gross contempt of UN resolution and the international community’s repeated warnings, are aimed to entrench its illegal occupation and apartheid regime further and impose new facts on the grounds.”

It added: “The State of Palestine reiterates that Israel, as an occupying Power, has no sovereignty over any part of the State of Palestine, including Jerusalem, and that any attempts to alter the demographic composition or legal status are universally recognized to be null and void, and shall remain so.”

The Foreign Ministry said, “Land theft is an Israeli national project, undertaken by every branch of the Israeli government, and is facilitated by Israeli officials. It is a State-sanctioned crime. The State of Palestine holds Israel, the occupying Power, and its officials fully responsible for the illegal settlement enterprise, the crimes it entails, and the criminal activities and terrorism of settler militias.”

It said the UN Security Council “must act in accordance with its resolutions, including 2334, and hold Israel and Israeli officials accountable for their crimes. The Secretary-General of the United Nations must uphold his obligations and urgently convene an international conference with the aim of ending Israel’s illegal occupation and ensuring that the Palestinian people exercise their right to self-determination in their independent State.”

It stressed that states “must not recognize the illegal situation or render aid or assistance in maintaining this situation and must ensure compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with international humanitarian law.”

The Foreign Ministry concluded its statement by stressing that “Israel’s illegal occupation and settlement enterprise are the source of this protracted injustice. Israel, the occupying Power, must dismantle its settlement enterprise in totality and end its illegal occupation. The State of Palestine will not relent in its political, diplomatic, and legal efforts to ensure that the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, return, and independence are fulfilled.”