JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel deprives Palestinian residents of the West Bank of basic necessities while Jewish settlements flourish, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.
The 166-page report, “Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” released Sunday, is based on case studies comparing Israel’s treatment of settlements and next-door Palestinian communities in the same areas.
The main umbrella settlers’ group called the report "Goebbels-like propaganda."
The report called on the United States to withhold aid to Israel in an amount equal to what Israel spends on the settlements, or about $1.4 billion. It also recommended that the U.S. study and withhold tax-exempt status from charitable organizations that support "supporting discriminatory and other illegal aspects of the settlements."
It also called on the European Union and the United States to label Israeli goods manufactured in the settlements as such, and on businesses to end any operations in the settlements.
"Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits," Human Rights Watch representative Carroll Bogert said.
"While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp — not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes."
The study looked at Israel’s policies and restrictions in eastern Jerusalem and in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli civil and military control.
The study reported that between 2000 and June 2009, Israeli policies had displaced some 31 percent of the Palestinian population in Area C, which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank and about 4 percent of the Palestinians living on the West Bank. According to the report, Palestinians can only build without restrictions on 1 percent of Area C land.
"How seriously can you take a ‘report’ that claims that Israel displaced 31percent of the Palestinians in Area C? That is, of course, utter nonsense," Dani Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council, a settlers umbrella organization, told JTA.
"It seems that HRW, an organization infamous since it was revealed that its senior Middle East analyst engaged in collecting Nazi memorabilia, is now producing by itself Goebbels-like propaganda."
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based think tank, said in a statement that "This is the latest Human Rights Watch report that strips away the context of Arab terror and substitutes inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations, falsely turning a political conflict into one of racial hostility by using the ‘separate but unequal’ language from the American civil rights movement.
"Of even greater concern, HRW in this report endorses boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), disguised as opposition to settlements, but in reality seeking the destruction of Israel. This is further proof of HRW founder Robert Bernstein’s conclusion that the organization has turned Israel into a pariah state."