Palestinians seek Swiss support against Israeli settlement building

Nabil Shaath and Joseph Deiss discussed greater protection for the Palestinians swissinfo.ch

The Palestinian Authority has called on Switzerland to convene a conference as soon as possible on implementation of the fourth Geneva Convention. The United Nations convention on the protection of the civilian population in areas of conflict would prevent Israel from building settlements in occupied areas.

This content was published on May 22, 2001 - 07:32

The request came during a visit to Bern by the Palestinian planning minister, Nabil Shaath.

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, reassured Shaath that Switzerland, as repository of the convention, was determined to hold an international conference and that preparations were in progress. But Deiss said it was important that the conference be held at a time when it would support and not hinder the peace process.

Deiss said he hoped as many countries as possible would take part. Israel and the United States are known to oppose the conference.

During his 90-minute conversation with Shaath, the Swiss foreign minister criticised Israel's inappropriate use of force against the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and accused Israel of violating the Geneva conventions.

Deiss said he hoped for the implementation of the Egyptian-Jordanian peace plan, which calls for a halt to Israeli settlement building and the resumption of talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Shaath later held talks in Geneva with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger.

After the meeting a spokesman for Kellenberger said the presence of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian areas was "a breach of the fourth Geneva Convention carrying serious humanitarian consequences".

swissinfo with agencies

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