Date: Tue, 13/12/2011

Israeli authorities have stepped up unlawful demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes, an international coalition of 20 leading aid agencies and human rights groups said today.

The statement comes as the Middle East Quartet meets in Jerusalem in its latest effort to revive peace talks.

The sharp rise in demolitions in 2011 has been accompanied by accelerated expansion of Israeli settlements and an escalation of violence perpetrated by settlers, the groups said.

The Quartet should call ongoing settlement expansion and house demolitions what they are: violations of international humanitarian law that Israel should stop,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Israel’s escalating violations show the fundamental failure of the Quartet’s approach. It’s time for the Quartet to understand that they cannot contribute to achieving a just and durable solution to the conflict without first ensuring respect for international law,” said Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Interim Programme Director, Amnesty International.