Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Israel hit back over the weekend at criticism from the US, EU and UN over plans to build housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, saying their claims that this undermines the two-state solution are “baseless.”
Israel last week announced plans to advance the construction of some 770 units in Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood in the capital beyond the Green Line.
The US, EU and UN criticized Israel for building plans in Gilo “knowing fully well that it is a Jerusalem neighborhood that will be part of Israel under any conceivable peace agreement,” read a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
“The suggestion that building in Gilo undermines the solution based on two-states for two peoples is factually baseless and distracts from the real obstacle to peace – the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders.”
The State Department criticism was especially harsh, with spokesman John Kirby saying that the US remains “troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
An EU statement said the decision to build in “the settlement of Gilo, built on occupied Palestinian land in east Jerusalem, undermines the viability of a two-state solution.” The statement continued: “The decision raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by the statements of some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state.”
In a related development, US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Paris on Saturday with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, with Kirby saying the Israeli-Palestinian issue was among the topics discussed.
According to Kirby, the two men discussed “international efforts to achieve a two-state solution, including initiatives put forth by France and Egypt. They agreed that strong leadership is required by all parties to help reduce the violence and take practical steps that can lead to meaningful discussions.”
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