The United States along with the international community on Wednesday condemned
Israel’s decision to retaliate against the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral
statehood moves by accelerating Jewish building in east Jerusalem and in West
The measure was a direct response to Monday’s decision
by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
to accept the PA’s bid to become its 195th member.
'We have a right to build in our eternal capital'
PA, opposition decry West Bank building decision
The US was among 14
countries including Israel that voted against Palestinian membership in
UNESCO. Still, Washington told Jerusalem it was wrong to take steps
against the Palestinians as a result.
White House spokesman Jay Carney
told a briefing that the move did not advance the goal of bridging differences
between Israelis and the Palestinians. He added that it was deeply
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We
continue to make our opposition to this clear.”
She added that
“unilateral actions by either parties work against efforts to resume direct
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on both Israel and
the Palestinians to “to refrain from provocations and [to] work with the Quartet
towards serious proposals on borders and security in the coming three months, in
the context of a shared commitment to resume direct negotiations.”
added that the “trajectory of developments” between Israel and the Palestinians
On Tuesday, the inner cabinet of eight ministers announced
that it had approved 1,650 homes in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem as
well in 327 homes in two West Bank settlements, 277 in Efrat and 50 in Ma’aleh
Adumim. The inner cabinet also “temporarily suspended” the transfer of tax and
import tariff revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, “Israeli settlement
activity is illegal under international law, including [in] east Jerusalem, and
an obstacle to peace.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said
that the renewed Jewish building over the pre-1967 Green Line was a “serious
blow to the Quartet’s efforts to restart peace negotiations.”
that it was “the latest in a series of provocative and unhelpful settlement
announcements. I condemn the decision.”
Hague said he was also concerned
about the inner cabinet’s decision to suspend the transfer of tax revenues to
“This is in no one’s interests, least of all Israel’s, since it
has direct implications for the Palestinian Authority’s ability to maintain
effective security in the West Bank,” he said.
“We need to see steps
towards peace, not actions that divide and isolate the parties further and
undermine the prospects for negotiations.”
His country was among the 52
nations that abstained in the UNESCO vote on Monday.
An Israeli official
brushed aside the European leaders’ comments.
“If some in Europe are
critical of Israel’s decision, they could have thought more carefully about
their own decision-making process concerning the vote at UNESCO.”
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, whose country had opposed Palestinian
membership in UNESCO, said that both Israel through its settlement policy and
the PA through its unilateral pursuit of statehood were making it difficult to
resume peace talks.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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