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UN Calls on Israel to Stop Settlement Activity

Palestinian protesters throw rocks at an Israeli border police vehicle during clashes at a weekly protest against the nearby Jewish settlement of Kdumim, in the West Bank village of Kfar Kadum, near Nablus, January 25, 2013.
United Nations human rights investigators are calling on Israel to stop all settlement activity and immediately begin a process of withdrawing settlers from occupied Palestinian territories.

The report Thursday was commissioned last year by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the effects of Jewish settlements on the civil rights of Palestinians. The panel determined Israel's settlement policy does violate Palestinians' rights.

Israel did not cooperate with the probe. The Israeli Foreign Ministry criticized the report Thursday, calling it "biased" and "counterproductive" to peace efforts.

Since 1967, settlements have been built with and without Israeli government authorization in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The report says an estimated 520,000 people now live in the settlements.

It says the construction amounts to a "creeping annexation" that would prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

The report says the settlements exclusively benefit Israeli Jews, with strict military and law enforcement of segregation that hurts Palestinians.

It details a list of ways the sites "consistently" violate Palestinians' rights, including freedoms of self-determination, movement and expression, as well as education, and access to water and natural resources.

In addition to ending construction and withdrawing settlers, the report urges Israel to ensure effective and prompt remedy to victims for the harm they suffered as a result of rights violations.

Israel announced in November that it would build 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The announcement came after the U.N. General Assembly upgraded Palestinian status at the World Body to "non-member state."