PLO official lauds diplomatic complaint penned by 15 EU states

Givat Hamatos is in Jerusalem’s municipal lines on the southern end of the capital, adjacent to Gilo, Beit Safafa and Ramat Rachel, while E1 is to the east, between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.

A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A top Palestinian official for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, made a public statement on Saturday lauding the decision of 15 European countries to issue a formal diplomatic complaint to the Foreign Ministry over construction in the E1 area and Givat Hamatos.
France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the EU issued the demarche in a video conference, reiterating their “grave concerns” about the construction in the areas in and around Jerusalem.
“We welcome the protest letter signed by European Ambassadors against Israel's plans to commence construction in the illegal settlement of 'Givat Hamatos' and possibly the so-called E1 Area on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem. However, we believe that the European Union, as well as the governments of these 15 states should adopt actionable decisions that would deter Israel from persisting on the path of illegality, impunity, and de facto annexation," Ashrawi said in her statement.
"Rhetorical opposition has not deterred Israel. In fact, Israel is emboldened to escalate its criminal actions precisely because it is confident that opposition will not move from the verbal to the practical."
France's Embassy in Israel tweeted following the submission of the letter.
“Settlements are illegal under International Humanitarian Law,” the French Embassy in Israel tweeted. “Any further settlement construction in this strategically sensitive area will have a devastating impact on a contiguous Palestinian State, as well as severely undermining the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters.”
Givat Hamatos is in Jerusalem’s municipal lines on the southern end of the capital, adjacent to Gilo, Beit Safafa and Ramat Rachel, while E1 is to the east, between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
"If implemented, these Israeli plans would completely sever occupied Jerusalem from its natural Palestinian surrounding and cut the occupied West Bank in half," Ashrawi added. "They would complete the Greater Jerusalem colonial project with the theft of strategic Palestinian land and the physical obstruction of any contiguity of a future Palestinian state."
Israel recently authorized the construction of over 1,000 housing units in Givat Hamatos, while plans to build thousands more homes in the neighborhood are at various stages of the authorization process.
Earlier last week, Peace Now claimed that Israel plans to promote 3,412 new homes in E1; the organization plans to file an objection to the plan, together with NGO Ir Amim.
Past plans to build in the E1 area have been brought up several times since former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin first advanced it, but were always frozen due to international pressure.
Israel says building in E1 protects a unified Jerusalem and development of Ma’aleh Adumim, while the Palestinians argue that it would make it impossible for them to have a contiguous state.
"While the international community is concerned with the 'possibility' of annexation, Israel is implementing its annexation scheme on the ground without any deterrence," Ashrawi explained. "This includes the choking siege and silent ethnic cleansing of Silwan, Al-Issawiya, and Wadi Al-Joz byway of home demolitions, systemic violence, and announced wide-scale settlement projects predicated on the displacement of thousands of Palestinians.
"States must not allow Israel to persist in this cynical ruse. The principle of accountability is undermined and rendered irrelevant when international actors insist on giving Israel a free pass on egregious violations of Palestinian rights and international law,” she concluded.

Lahav Harkov and Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.