Ramallah: The EU has condemned Israeli plans to build Jewish-only colonies in occupied east Jerusalem and says future ties should be linked on its advancement of the peace process.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Monday that he was pushing forward plans for 1,060 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem, in which Palestinians see the capital of their future state.
The European Union asked for further explanation of the plans and said moves of that nature would be “ill-judged and ill-timed” and would raise questions about “Israel’s commitment to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.”
“We stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution,” said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the head of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The US Administration also condemned the Israeli plans with State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying Washington was “deeply concerned” by Netanyahu’s building plans.
“If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions,” Psaki said. “Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”
“We view colony activities as illegitimate and we are unequivocally opposed to unilateral steps,” she said.
Israeli Finance Minister and Chairman of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid warned about damaging Israeli ties with the United States as a result of the matter. “Israel must hold colony construction in order to prevent further damaging ties with the US,” said Lapid in an interview with the newspaper Yediot Ahranoth. “Right now what we need to do is hold back any construction within the territories, because the US sees it as an obstacle to any future peace process, and in a way as a provocative move by the state of Israel and the government of Israel.”
“Construction should not move forward while there is a crisis with the US and the rest of the world that should not be exacerbated,” he said, adding that Israel cannot act that way with its most important ally. “Only when you become a member of the security cabinet, do you understand how deep are the ties and how important are the ties,” he said.
The Israeli daily, Haaretz, claims Netanyahu has defended his colony building policy by telling a Knesset member from his Likud faction that he was “committed to construction in every part of the West Bank.”
The Prime Minister maintained that his policy had not changed and that 7,000 of the 10,000 housing units erected in occupied Jerusalem in the last six years were built in the occupied eastern part of the city, while 3,000 were built on the western side.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to convene an urgent session to call on Israel to halt both its disruptions in occupied Jerusalem and the ongoing action by colonists against Al Haram Al Sharif.
‘Escalate the conflict’
Commenting on Netanyahu’s building plans, Wasel Abu Yousuf, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the Israeli plans closed any possible window for a diplomatic process that might lead to a political approach. “The Israeli plans are an attempt to escalate the conflict,” he told Gulf News. “The Israeli ultra-orthodox ruling government tries its best to declare war against the Palestinian people in the West Bank, occupied east Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip to create at the end of the day an open confrontation with Palestinians.”
Abu Yousuf said the Israeli building plans in occupied east Jerusalem will force the Palestinian leadership to accelerate its overtures to the UN Security Council and its efforts to join other UN institutions, including the International Criminal Court so it can indict the Israeli occupation for its crimes. He added that the colony expansion policy will also influence the Palestinian leadership to have little commitment to previously signed agreements with Israel including economic, political and security agreements.