Jerusalem: 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.
Rejecting the criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused human rights groups collectively of demonstrating "hypocrisy" toward Israel.
In a speech to US Jews, Netanyahu said such groups "turn a blind eye to the most repressive regimes in the world, regimes that stone women and hang gays," but target a nation he said was "the only liberal democracy in the Middle East”.
The report highlighted cases in which it said West Bank Palestinian villages were 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 meters (yards) away, has a dedicated paved road and all 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" capital, but this is not recognised internationally.