JERUSALEM, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Israel
is preventing Palestinian development in parts of the occupied West Bank
and East Jerusalem
while pouring funding into Jewish settlements
, the Human Rights Watch
group said on Sunday.
Its 166-page report
focused on Israeli policies in areas of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority
does not hold any sway under interim peace deals and in East Jerusalem, annexed to Israel after its capture in a 1967 war.
Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements, the New York-based organisation said.
Asked about the report, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Human Rights Watch had repeatedly demonstrated an anti-Israeli bias.
Unfortunately over the past years a series of documented cases have shown Human Rights Watch reports to have clearly been polluted by an anti-Israel agenda, said spokesman Mark Regev.
The report highlighted cases in which it said West Bank Palestinian villages are denied the opportunity to develop electricity and running water and road infrastructure while nearby settlements had all those day-to-day amenities in place.
One case cited by the report was that of the Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib near Bethlehem
. Human Rights Watch said the village of 150 people can be reached only by a dirt track and that Israel refuses to connect it to the Israeli electrical grid.
The small Jewish settlement of Sde Bar, just 350 metres away, has a dedicated paved road and all the modern amenities, the report added. Some 50 people live in the settlement.
Human Rights Watch said Israel had cited security concerns as a reason for any differential treatment.
But Carroll Bogert, a spokeswoman for the group, said Israel was carrying out systematic discrimination merely because of (Palestinians') race, ethnicity and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools and access to roads.
Some 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank alongside more than 400,000 settlers. The World Court has described settlements built on land Israel occupied in 1967 as illegal.
Palestinians want all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, currently controlled by Islamist Hamas
, for their future state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israel says all of Jerusalem is its eternal and undivided