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PCHR: PCHR Commends UNICEF Stance Against Illegal OPT Settlements

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The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the decision of UNICEF to reject any further support from Israeli businessman Lev Leviev, who owns companies actively involved in constructing illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Lev Leviev, one of the richest men in Israel, had, until just a few days ago, been involved in fundraising for UNICEF, whilst at the same time being directly involved in building homes in illegal settlements across the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Companies owned by Lev Leviev have built homes in settlements including Maale Adumim and Har Homa settlements near East Jerusalem, as well as settlements near the West Bank towns of Jayyous and Bil’in. Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) are illegal under International Humanitarian Law, constituting a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention that amounts to a war crime. Leviev’s support for UNICEF therefore represented a major conflict of interest for the agency.

On June 19, 2008, Chris de Bono, UNICEF Senior Communications Advisor confirmed that “UNICEF has concluded it will not consider partnerships – direct or indirect – with Mr. Lev Leviev or any of his corporate entities, and will not accept financial or other support that we know is from him or his corporate entities.” PCHR commends UNICEF’s rejection of any future support from Lev Leviev. The Centre calls upon all other international agencies to ensure they are not receiving financial support, directly or indirectly, from any organizations involved in Israel’s illegal occupation of the OPT. In addition, the Centre calls upon all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations to take measures against individuals and companies involved in the building and expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).