February 28, 2023 –

“Let us raise our voices against the illegal annexation of Palestinian land for the expansion  of settlements”

On 12 February, the Israeli security cabinet decided to retroactively “legalize” nine settlement outposts in the West Bank – which are considered illegal even under Israeli law – and advanced plans to build 10,000 new housing units in existing settlements. This announcement drew swift international criticism, which the government – considered the most right-wing in Israel’s history – rejected, citing a series of attacks in Jerusalem as justification.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the settler population in the West Bank had surpassed 500,000, in addition to the more than 200,000 settlers who live in East Jerusalem.

The existence, and continued expansion, of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem breaches international law, regardless of motive. Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention contains an explicit and absolute prohibition against an occupying power transferring, or encouraging the transfer, of its own civilians into occupied territory. “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” also constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court giving rise to individual criminal responsibility.

A war crime is never a justified response to a crime. Neither is the collective punishment of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for acts of individuals that they have no responsibility for. The settlements and collective punishment are not just illegal under international law but also contravene fundamental tenets of the liberal democratic order.

Action to take:

  • Call on your government to denounce settlement expansion in the West Bank, and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
  • Call on your government to take action to protect Palestinians, and to stop measures amounting to collective punishment of Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.



Holy God, in the beginning you created the heavens and the earth

And you called it good

 The earth is yours, and all that is in it,

The world, and those who live in it

 And yet, through human greed, carelessness, and violence

Your good creation is destroyed

 Today we pray for the land called holy, caught in an unholy conflict

We pray for Palestinian communities threatened by settlements

 We pray for farmers who cannot reach their olive groves, for families whose land has been stolen, and for children who live in fear of attacks

We pray for the land itself, for water, for animals, for the environment

 And we pray for the olive trees: proud symbol of Palestine, strong and resilient, steadfast and true, bearing fruit even in the harshest conditions

Give us the sumud (صمود )of the olive trees. Strengthen our commitment to peace and justice for Palestine. Keep us steadfast in prayer, in advocacy, and in action. Like a tree standing by the water—we shall not be moved. Amen.