By Handan Kazanci
ISTANBUL (AA) – An Istanbul conference on Monday discussed the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Feras Qawasmeh, head of the Palestinian Land Affairs Department at Istanbul-based NGO Vision for Political Development, and independent researcher Hamza Halaybeh made a joint presentation titled -- The Israeli Settlements/colonists and apartheid wall in the West Bank as part of the seminar at Sabahattin Zaim University.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency ahead of the seminar, Qawasmeh slammed a recent announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. will no longer view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
“This is not right," Qawasmeh said, "first of all, this is against all international laws.”
“There are a lot of international resolutions which are stating exactly the opposite of what American Foreign Minister has mentioned in his statement,” he added.
“No one would accept it,” Qawasmeh said.
Halaybeh, for his part, told Anadolu Agency that the U.S. move has not been “accepted by the Palestinian side popularly and officially.”
“It is against international laws and the United Nations resolutions,” Halaybeh added.
He said that the U.S. move was “against the two-state solution, which they are working on for more than 20 years between the Palestinians and Israel”.
According to the two-state solution, an independent Palestine co-exists peacefully with its Israeli neighbor as part of a comprehensive deal.
Qawasmeh said Palestinian factions agree on the rejection of the Deal of Century, the U.S. back-channel peace plan.
“First of all, because this is part of the Deal of Century, they rejected as a whole, they don't accept anything,” Qawasmeh said.
He urged unity among Palestinians: “Without this unity, our voice wouldn't be reaching out [the international community].”
He also encouraged any kind of activities that "spread out the awareness about the rights of Palestinian people to live in their lands”.
Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians insist to regain the entire West Bank along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.