A Palestinian man looks at the remains of a quadbike set on
fire by Palestinians after it was left behind by Israeli
settlers in the West Bank village of Burin. REUTERS/Abed
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki has asked
world powers to label Israeli settler groups who attack
Palestinian communities and holy sites as terrorist
The move comes as part of a Palestinian drive to refer their
demands for an independent state in Israeli-occupied
territory to more international bodies since US-backed peace
talks collapsed last month.
Malki said militant settlers known as the "Hilltop Youth" and
vigilantes who use the "price tag" slogan "practice terror
... constantly against the Palestinian people, their land,
holy places and property."
"Price tag" refers to retribution the settlers say they will
exact for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb
settlement in the West Bank, an area Palestinians seek as
part of a future state.
"These groups play a role in killing, incitement to violence
and spreading the culture of hatred and racism," he said in
the letter sent to Russia, the United States, Canada, the
European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League and the
Organisation of Islamic States.
Palestinian anger has mounted over incursions by militant
Jewish settlers into Palestinian villages where they have
torched buildings, scrawled hateful slogans and attacked
The European Union and Western countries have for decades
referred to several Palestinian armed groups as terrorist
organisations and, more recently, have also included the
Israeli ultra-nationalist militant group Kahane Chai.
A US State Department country report on terrorism published
last month described the raids by militant settlers, but did
not designate them as terrorist groups.
The UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in
2013 reported 399 settler attacks resulting in Palestinian
injury or property damage.
Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for
comment on the Palestinian move.
Palestinians want an independent state in Gaza, the West Bank
and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured and occupied after
the 1967 Six Day War. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Since the U.N. recognised Palestine as a non-member state in
2012, Palestinians have stepped up a campaign to join U.N.
bodies and submit their complaints to international opinion.
Israel sees these moves as unilateral and harmful to peace
negotiations, which broke down in April amid mutual blame.
Israel's justice and internal security ministers asked the
cabinet last week to introduce the "terrorist group" label
for the attackers.
Despite dozens of arrests by Israeli security forces of
suspects over the past year, there have been few convictions.
Police say many are minors to whom courts show leniency.
The frequency of attacks has risen sharply over the past
month since the Israeli military demolished structures in a
West Bank settlement built without government authorisation.
Ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the Holy Land in late May,
the Roman Catholic patriarch in Jerusalem has expressed alarm
over threats to Christians repeatedly scrawled on church
property by the suspected settler vandals in recent