I cannot help but question Netanyahu’s thinking in his decision to approve over 1,000 new settlements now, so close to the date when the peace talks are to resume. Really, you want peace so why now? Me thinks Netanyahu has spent too many years listening to Christian Zionist groups and leaders, primarily in the West.
Jerusalem (CNN) — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are preparing to resume long-stalled direct talks on Wednesday, but news of Israeli plans for more than 1,000 new settlement units on disputed territory has cast their success into doubt.
The two sides agreed to return to the negotiating table following intense diplomatic efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to the region last month. But the news that Israeli authorities have given preliminary approval for new settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem — considered illegal under international law — has angered senior Palestinian figures and prompted condemnation from Israel’s Western allies.
Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, told CNN that the announcement was a “preliminary procedure decision” and that additional decisions would be needed before any construction could start. The issue of Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem derailed the last round of direct talks in 2010.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, deplored the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its actions.
“I think this whole series of settlement expansion, land confiscation will turn any peace initiative into a mockery, any negotiations become a travesty — there is no possibility of peace with such actions and plans,” she said. “Israel is destroying the negotiations, Israel is destroying any chances of peace, and Israel should be made to bear responsibility for this.”
UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt called on the Israeli authorities Saturday to reverse its decision to advance plans for 1,096 settlement units in the West Bank and approve dozens of new units in East Jerusalem.
“Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution,” he said. “We urge both parties to continue to show the bold and decisive leadership needed for these efforts to succeed, and to avoid steps that undermine negotiations.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday that the United States had been in touch with the Israeli government over the decision and was making its concerns known. “Our position on settlements has not changed. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and oppose any efforts to legitimize settlement outposts,” she said. –