EU flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels..
(photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR)
Construction in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev take the world “further away from a negotiated peace agreement” in the Middle East, Britain’s new Middle East Minister Andrew Murrison said in a statement on Tuesday.
Murrison, who visited Jerusalem last week for his first official visit since being appointed to his new position some three weeks earlier, issued a statement condemning tenders issued by the Israel Land Authority last week to build hundreds of housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.
According to Peace Now, the Housing Ministry on Thursday published tenders for the construction of 460 housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev and 345 in Ramot. Among the tenders issued was one for 250 units in an assisted-living facility for the elderly.
Even the anti-settlement Peace Now acknowledged that the plans “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.”
In the various rounds of discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the last number of years, the idea that Israel would cede Ramot or Pisgat Ze’ev was never seriously entertained. Both neighborhoods – built on land beyond the Green Line – are an intricate part of Jerusalem’s urban fabric.
Yet the UK government, said Murrison in a statement, “is gravely concerned by plans announced on 30 May to advance tenders for hundreds of settlement housing units in occupied east Jerusalem.”
“We are clear,” the statement continued, “that settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are contrary to international law and an obstacle to a two-state solution. Regrettably, this takes us further away from a negotiated peace agreement.”
He said that when he visited Jerusalem, he reiterated his country’s support for a two-state solution, “with Jerusalem as a shared capital for both states.”
The UK statement was followed three days later by a similar statement issued from the EU.
“The policy of settlement construction and expansion in east Jerusalem 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,” that statement read.
The Foreign Ministry, used to the almost reflexive reaction from the EU and some individual European states after the announcement of any building anywhere beyond the Green Line, had no response to the statements.
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