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Israel Rejectes UN Call for Summit

February 10, 1999

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Israel rejected a U.N. General Assembly call for an international conference on Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, charging Wednesday that it violates peace accords with the Palestinians.

By a vote of 115-2 with five abstentions, the General Assembly on Tuesday called for a conference of the signatories of the 1949 Geneva Conventions to consider measures to stop Israeli settlement activity.

Peace Now, an Israeli watchdog group that opposes settlement in the West Bank, issued a report this week charging that settlers are illegally taking over hilltops and open spaces, and the Israeli government is doing nothing to stop them.

Since Israel and the Palestinians signed a land-for-deal in October, settlers have taken over and established a presence on at least ten hilltops.

Palestinians, who are the majority in the West Bank, want the area, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future independent state. They charge that Israel’s settlement activity there violates the Geneva Convention prohibition on population transfers in occupied territories.

Israel argues that the Geneva Conventions article does not apply to the West Bank, because its claim to the territory is as solid as the Palestinian claims.

Settler Shimon Riklin told The Associated Press that the new settlement was created as a response to the U.S.-brokered Wye River accords, which most settlers reject because it gives some West Bank territory to Palestinian control.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped implementation of the Wye River accord after an initial land transfer, charging that the Palestinians were not keeping their part of the bargain.

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