20 January 2018

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | Contact us | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | desktop


Mild criticism for new Jewish housing in Jerusalem and West Bank

EU foreign policy chief Ashton and UN envoy mildly rebuke Israel’s decision. Under international law, settlements are illegal and could compromise the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israel’s decision to build 942 homes in East Jerusalem has only led to a mild rebuke from the United Nations and the European Union. Israeli activists with the ‘Peace Now’ movement are concerned that the new housing includes hundreds of units approved retroactively.

On Monday, the Jerusalem Municipality approved a plan to build 942 new homes in Gilo, near Bethlehem, which is part of the East Jerusalem region. The municipality said this project was in addition to the 900-plus new homes approved in November 2009.

Gilo is built on land Israel captured in 1967. Under international law, occupied land cannot be confiscated by the occupying power. Yet Israel has continue to build illegal (but government approved) settlements, that are reducing the territory of a possible Palestinian state.

At the same time, settlements around East Jerusalem make it less likely for Palestinians to have that part of the city as their future capital.

The international community reacted to the new housing project in Gilo with only mild criticism.

“I am deeply disappointed by the approval of 942 new housing units in the Israeli settlement,” European Union foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton said.

“We call on the Israeli government to halt further planning for new settlement units, which undermines efforts to bring about resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and prejudices final status discussions,” said Richard Miron, spokesman for United Nations peace envoy Robert Serry.

Matters, however, are even worse. The Israeli human rights organisation ‘Peace Now’ said that four settlements (Rotem, Eshkolot-Sansana, Halamish-Neve Zuf and Kiryat Netafim) already under construction without any relevant permits have been authorised retroactively by Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, conquered by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, about 280,000 in the West Bank and 190,000 in and around East Jerusalem.

According to ‘Peace Now’ figures, the Israeli population in the West Bank rose by 5-6 per cent since 2001.

According to the newspaper Haaretz, the government is planning 50,000 new homes for East Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

Israel’s Interior minister said that expansion could only take place on the eastern side of the city because environmentalists are blocking development on the western side.

See also

Israel backs down over 55 thousand new settler homes in the West Bank
Revealed recently by activists, the project is denied by government, who claims it was commissioned "without authorization" and "has no validity". Plans targeted E1 area, to create a buffer separating East Jerusalem from the West Bank

For Obama talks between Israel and Palestine are urgent, but no one is budging
Pressures by the US president are not generating any response from Netanyahu or Abbas. Both have domestic problems with allies. West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements remain the hardest obstacle to overcome.

11/10/2017 15:24:00 EU - ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Demolitions in the West Bank: since 2009, more than one million euros of European funds lost

In 2017, 330 have been dismantled or seized, 72 of which fund by the European Union. 60% in East Jerusalem. Over 500 Palestinian displaced, 290 of whom children. Only  1% of requested building permits are approved.

Tensions remain high as Israel shuts down West Bank crossings
US Vice President Joe Biden, who is in Israel to re-launch the peace process through indirect talks, accepts Netanyahu’s explanation that the construction of East Jerusalem settlements was slated in a few years time. Is this a green light for more settlements? Abbas wants the United States to make sure plans are scrapped.

19/10/2017 09:48:00 EU-ISRAEL-PALESTINE
European countries: Israel must reimburse seizures and destruction of humanitarian material

The letter, signed by eight countries, is an unprecedented move in relations with Israel. Israel's coercive measures on schools and against international assistance cause suffering to Palestinians. More than one million euros in European funding lost.

AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153