Settlement push a risk to peace, US warns Israel

Settlement push a risk to peace, US warns Israel
Sydney, Morning Herald, 20 December 2012

WASHINGTON: The United States has criticised plans by Israel to build nearly 5000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, saying it would run ”counter to the cause of peace”.

”We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” the State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said in her strongest remarks in recent days on settlements [view video, at 26 min, 18 December 2012].

”Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.”

Jerusalem municipal and district committees will consider four projects this week in the Givat HaMatos and Gilo neighbourhoods (map/ Peace Now Map), said the non-governmental groups Peace Now and Terrestrial Jerusalem, which track settlement construction.

The projects are being discussed after Israel on Monday gave the green light for the construction of 1500 homes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo, a move which has already drawn US criticism.

The other plans being weighed this week are all in the southern sector of the city, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

”The slow process of cutting Palestine into pieces will be complete if Israel goes forward with these developments,” said Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, West Bank. ”It is a Christmas gift for Bethlehem that this biblical city will be the first to be cut off from Jerusalem.”

Ms Nuland said relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories were ”not in a good cycle”.

”We need to break this cycle, end the provocative actions and get these parties back to the table,” she said of direct peace talks which have been stalled for two years.

”It is not easy; it has not been easy for quite some time. We can’t want this more than the parties themselves want it.”

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as the capital of a future state, and is one of the core issues to be settled in the peace talks.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday reiterated his nation’s right to increase Jewish presence in all parts of ”united” Jerusalem, a euphemism for the city including its eastern sector.

”Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel and we will continue to build in it,” he said.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move considered illegal under international law.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the talks until Israel calls a freeze on settlement building.

Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News


Israel to approve new Jewish community in e. J’lem By MELANIE LIDMAN 12 February 2012

“veteran Jerusalem activist Danny Seidemann said that the capital’s southern projects over the pre- 1967 Green Line are cumulatively “just as devastating” as E1, because they will prevent the implementation of a twostate solution. He argued that the plans for 7,770 new Jewish housing units in southern Jerusalem – in Gilo, Har Homa and Givat Hamatos – will effectively cut off the city from Bethlehem.

“Under [the] Geneva [Accord], a two-state solution is still possible, where Beit Safafa will be Palestinian, but if Givat Hamatos were to be built it would no longer be possible,” he said.

“In the absence of geographical connection, there will be no political connection,” Seidemann added. “And the loss of a two-state solution jeopardizes Israel’s existence.”

 US Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, 18 December 2012

QUESTION: Just staying in the region, but moving to Israel, you will have seen Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments this morning that they will continue to build in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem included, because it is the undivided and eternal capital of Israel. You will probably also have seen that the – several European countries that are members of the Security Council are talking about writing a – or drafting some kind of condemnatory language about this. So one, I’m wondering what your reaction is to the Prime Minister’s comments, and two, I’m wondering if you’ll sign on to the European expression of extreme displeasure.

MS. NULAND: Well, let me start with the second first. I don’t know that we’ve seen any particular draft from the Europeans. We obviously believe that each country ought to make its own representations to the parties, and that’s the way we’ve proceeded. And if we want to make representations as a Quartet, we’re prepared to do that.

With regard to the larger settlement issue and statements recently and actions on the ground, we are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk. So we again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations.

QUESTION: Well, it’s —

QUESTION: Well, can I ask you – this is a far cry from what you said yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before. Why now are you taking this up a notch?

MS. NULAND: Because we’re concerned about the actions that have happened in the last 24 hours and the continued acceleration.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Do you – is it a recognition? Can I just – is it a recognition of the fact that when the Palestinians take steps that are – you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, that those steps actually do not change things on the ground, i.e. going to the UN and asking for recognition there, and that when the Israelis do things that you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, they actually have the effect of changing the situation on the ground and pre – affecting issues that you believe need to be decided only in negotiation?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this yesterday. The number one way to settle this whole question of building and settlements is for the parties to come together and settle security, settle boundaries between them. That is the right path forward. We don’t want to see provocative action on either side. But you’re absolutely right that this strong statement today reflects concern about what’s going on.

QUESTION: But there’s no – I mean, up until now, the Palestinians haven’t had any recourse when they – when these settlements are being built. Now, as an upgraded member of the United Nations General Assembly, they do have the option of joining the International Criminal Court or other courts and pursuing this as a matter of international law. And the United States itself recognizes its settlements – that the settlements are not legal. So what incentive do you have to offer the Palestinians not to try and seek this redress in an international court when you yourself are saying that it’s provocative and it’s not legal?

MS. NULAND: Because it’s not going to change anything for a single Palestinian, and in fact, it’s going to make the environment for getting to the table, which could change the lives for Palestinians, all the harder. So if you really care about your people, if you really care about lasting peace on either side of this, the only way forward is to sit down, talk it out, and figure it out for the future.

QUESTION: But you can understand, can’t you, that they don’t want to sit down with the Israelis while they’re continuing to build these settlements? I mean, what influence do you or does even the courts – I agree they would – they completely don’t listen to that either. But what influence does anybody have over the Israelis to get them to stop building settlements?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve had provocative action all the way through this season. The only way to get this settled is for the parties to come back to the table. It’s not going to be settled by any of these provocative actions, and we are calling it out today.


QUESTION: A follow-up on your deep disappointment. You just said you’re deeply disappointed. I assume that you’re referring to the confiscation of about 450 acres, which is 1,200 dunams, yesterday from Abu Dis and Hazara. Now, how will this deep disappointment impact what is going on on the ground? I mean, it seems that from briefing to briefing, more land is taken.

MS. NULAND: Again, I think I just spoke about this, that the only way forward is to have a lasting settlement between these parties. But again, we are not in a good cycle here. We need to break this cycle, end the provocative actions, and get these parties back to the table. It is not easy. It has not been easy for quite some time. We can’t want this more than the parties themselves want it. And we are going to continue to work on it and we’re going to continue to call it how we see it when either side takes provocative action.



See also

Israel approves 800 new homes in Gilo settlement
Posted on October 24, 2012

CARR: ‘Israeli settlement building must stop’.
Posted on July 31, 2012

The 60 Minutes item Israel did not want shown – the situation of Christians in the Holy Land
Posted on April 25, 2012

Images of settlements



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