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Syria: Israel Using "Ethnic Cleansing Policy" in West Bank

AP

Syria on Tuesday blasted new Israeli military orders that pave the way for large-scale expulsions of Palestinians from the West Bank and warned the move was an "ethnic cleansing policy" in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Under the new rules, which are to take effect on Tuesday, anyone caught in the West Bank without an Israeli permit could face expulsion within days or be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

This would include thousands of Gazans who have moved to the West Bank, foreign-born Palestinians married to West Bankers and foreigners who are in the West Bank on expired tourist visas.

"This decision is the adoption of the ethnic cleansing policy and a step to the mass deportation aiming at emptying the land from its people," a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said. "It also constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and human rights and disregard of the will and resolutions of the international community.

"Syria, while confirming the need for an urgent move at both Arab and international levels to condemn this decision and prevent its implementation, sees that it is extremely dangerous to continue providing immunity to Israel as this enables it to disdain international law and will of the whole international community," the source added.

His statement was carried by state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

The West Bank has attracted a growing number of foreign activists who have joined Palestinians in protests against Israeli military rule.

In recent months, Israel seized two foreigners with expired visas in a West Bank town and then expelled them.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Monday condemned Israel's decision and said after a set of talks in Damascus that the world had to take up an "urgent action" to stop the measure.

"For as long as this lasts, things will get worse, and it will be more difficult to bring true peace" to the region, Mussa said, adding that the Arab League council would hold an "urgent meeting" on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. It is expected to form the main part of the Palestinians' promised future state.

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