Palestinian leaders on Tuesday reacted strongly to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to legalize three outposts in the West Bank, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas calling the move a "dead end" and PLO official Saeb Erekat threatening to take the issue to the UN Security Council, according to Palestinain Ma'an news agency.
A special ministerial committee decided Monday night to legalize the three West Bank outposts of Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana. Israel has promised the international community not to create new settlements and has not done so for over a decade.
A spokesman for Abbas condemned Netanyahu's decision, saying that the prime minister "has pushed things to a dead end yet again," Ma'an reported.
Erekat, meanwhile, said that Palestinian leaders are examining ways to secure a UN Security Council resolution that would condemn Israeli settlement building. Erekat also called on Israel to choose between peace and settlements, warning of the demise of the two-state solution would the Israeli government sanction further settlement projects, the report stated.
Jordan and France both condemned the Israeli decision. The French foreign ministry released a statement saying that the move "sends a very negative signal, which is contrary to the interests of peace in the region." It added that France "considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East
Jerusalem to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. The outposts must be
dismantled in accordance with Israel’s obligations under the road map."
Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh also denounced the move, saying the country "condemns Israeli settlement activities as well as its unilateral measures," AFP reported.
Israeli government officials have said that the decision to formalize their status did not “change the reality on the ground,” and that the move neither represented the establishment of new settlements or the expansion of existing ones. Rather, they said, the move merely gave legal standing to the three communities which, for various technical reasons, had never been granted that status in the past.
The government approved the creation of Bruchin on May 19, 1983, Rehalim on November 27, 1991, and Sansana on June 28, 1998 as legal settlements, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.