Qatar urged the UN 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,” Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said at the International Conference on Jerusalem in the Qatari capital, 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 UN to “investigate the measures Israel has taken to Judaize Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967.”
Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has proved one of the thorniest issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians.
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 asked.
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 Mahmoud 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.”
Abbas said that through settlement building in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israel is carrying out an “ethnic cleansing, in every sense against the Palestinian residents in order to turn them into minorities in their own city.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office slammed Abbas’ “harshly inflammatory speech” and demanded the Palestinian leadership stopped “distorting reality.”
“For thousands of years Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” it said in a statement.
Unrest has been on the rise in East Jerusalem’s Old City compound that houses the al-Aqsa mosque, erupting into violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.