Australia denounces settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, demands Israel take ‘immediate and concrete steps’ to tackle it

Australia denounces settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, demands Israel take ‘immediate and concrete steps’ to tackle it
  • PublishedDecember 16, 2023

Australia has joined more than a dozen other countries and the European Union in issuing a joint statement expressing “grave concern” about violent attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom are among the nations that have called out the violence, demanding Israel take “immediate and concrete steps” to tackle it.

“We strongly condemn the violent acts committed by extremist settlers, which are terrorising Palestinian communities,” the statement shared by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said.

It also highlighted that since the beginning of October there had been 343 violent attacks in the West Bank — killing eight Palestinians and injuring dozens more, as well as forcing more than 1,000 people from their homes.

A map of Israel-occupied regions
The West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.(ABC News)

The nations also reiterated their position that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were illegal under international law, making particular reference to Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention which states that an occupying power must not transfer its own civilians into the territory it occupies.

Signatories want those responsible brought to justice

The statement also called for Israel to protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, adding that those responsible for the violence must be brought to justice.

This undermines security in the West Bank and the region and threatens prospects for a lasting peace.”

Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were also among the countries that joined the statement, issued late on Friday.

The nations also welcomed comments by Israel in November that outlined it would take action against the perpetrators of the violent acts, but said immediate steps must be taken.

“Words are important, but must now be translated into action,” the statement read.

It comes after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week joined the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand to call for a “sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza, 10 weeks after the Israel-Hamas war began.

Australia also joined more than 150 other countries this week in voting for a ceasefire in the United Nations General Assembly, after abstaining from a vote on the issue in October.

Meanwhile, the federal opposition has accused the government of falling behind allies by not applying further sanctions against Hamas.

On November 18, Australia imposed sanctions on eight persons and one entity for the terrorist organisation’s October 7 attack, but Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham called on the government to go further by sanctioning another two of Hamas’s leaders.

“Australia’s response falls well short of that of the UK and the US, both of which have now applied multiple rounds of sanctions,” Senator Birmingham said in a statement.

But a DFAT spokesperson said it was “long-standing practice” not to comment on potential sanctions.

“Providing information about potential listings may provide entities and individuals with time to move assets outside of Australia and render the sanctions against them less effective,” the spokesperson said.


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