The European Union on Saturday criticized Israeli plans for new construction in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, saying that Tel Aviv’s policy was an “obstruction to peace.”
The EU issued a statement condemning the policy of settlement construction and expansion in East Jerusalem which continues to undermine the possibility of a viable two-state solution with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, which is the “only realistic way to achieve a just and lasting peace.”
“The European Union is strongly opposed to Israel's settlement policy, including in East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. The EU will continue to engage with both parties and with its international and regional partners to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution,” concluded the statement.
On Thursday, the Housing Ministry published tenders for the construction of 805 housing units in East Jerusalem with 460 housing units in Pisgat Zeev and 345 housing units in Ramot.
Israeli media reported that almost all tenders are according to plans approved during the last two years and are intended to add housing units to the existing neighborhoods in a way that increases the density of the built-up area and does not actually expand the area on which the neighborhoods are spread.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Israeli decision, saying that this construction falls within the framework of the settlement measures aimed at Judaizing the occupied East Jerusalem and its surroundings, and isolating it completely from its Palestinian surroundings.
The Ministry affirmed that settlements are “a flagrant violation of international law, Geneva Conventions, international legitimacy and its resolutions,” adding that it is also a test to the international community’s ability to defend and protect its principles, values, and credibility in fulfilling its legal and moral responsibilities towards Palestinians.
Israeli settlements continue to be an obstacle to achieving peace. In previous years, Israelis rejected Palestinian proposals to halt settlements’ construction in order to return to negotiations.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements stated that the Israeli Minister of Housing published the tenders of the settlements’ plan adopted since two years.
The tenders are, according to approved plans, for areas that are already built and are only intended to add housing units in a way that increases density and does not actually expand the area on which the neighborhoods are spread.
The Bureau accused the United States of encouraging Israel to settle, saying the occupation allows “settlement councils” to control large areas of region C.
The Israeli governments exploit the de facto situation imposed by the military occupation in order to manipulate the usage of the Palestinian territories, thereby restricting its usage to settlers.
The authorities sometimes ordered the military commander to declare the Palestinian territories a natural reserve where Palestinians are not allowed to enter or use, or later abolishing that decision to later become an area for expanding the settlements in a blatant violation of international conventions and UN resolutions which call upon the occupying state not to change the environmental reality and the preservation of natural resources, and the cultural heritage in the occupied territories.
The settlement councils took control of the land “in violation of the powers granted to them”, according to investigations including those conducted by Israeli organizations. The councils seized about 200,000 dunums in the southern Hebron hills and about 800,000 dunums the Jordan Valley.
There are six regional councils in the West Bank, each of which runs a number of settlements.