UN Security Council members and the EU condemned Israel’s advancement this week of plans for 2,733 settler homes in the West Bank, warning that it could lead to a one-state reality.“Settlement activity is taking place at an unprecedented pace, it can result in a reality of a state with two citizenship regimes, and this is a situation that is unequal and can lead to disastrous consequences,” France said.“We are very near the point of non-return,” France added. “It destroyed politically and on the ground the very possibility of having two states.”Russia, Japan, Sweden and the UK were among the countries that also made statements about the work of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which on Wednesday ended a three-day meeting to advance the homes.The European Union said it has asked Israel to clarify its actions and called for it to reconsider its decisions.Such activity is “detrimental to ongoing efforts towards meaningful peace talks,” the EU said. “The EU’s position on Israeli settlement construction and related activities... is clear and has not changed: all settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace,” the EU said. Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who is also the chief foreign envoy of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, immediately lashed out at the EU for its response.
“As the Palestinian Authority cozies up with Hamas, all the European Union can focus on is the building of a few hundred homes for Jews in Judea. Had the European diplomats actually visited our towns and cities in Judea and Samaria, they would have learned that we are the key to building a peaceful future; every additional building equals opportunity and progress for everyone in the region,” Revivi said.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have not shied away from publishing information about settlement activity this year.To underscore his support for settlement activity, Liberman on Wednesday visited the construction site of the new Amihai settlement, which is set on an empty West Bank hilltop behind Shiloh. The planning council gave the settlement its final approval today.Cranes and bulldozers have cleared a dirt road and have to begun to lay the groundwork for utilities and homes at the site.Liberman sat under a small white tent that was specially set up for him to speak to the press. He was flanked by Avi Roeh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan.He noted that the approvals granted the last three days resolved a number of long-standing issues between settlers and the government.Aside from the final approvals for work on the Amihai settlement to house the Amona evacuees, tenders were issued for 300 homes for the Beit El settlement, and a zoning plan was approved for the Migron evacuees in a new neighborhood of the Kochav Ya’acov settlement. The IDF destroyed the Migron outpost five years ago, and since then its 50 families have lived in modular homes. The approvals come after a settler campaign to push Netanyahu to make good on promises he made to the Amona, Beit El and Migron families.At a protest in front of Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, “We are asking this government to embark on a real construction effort, including the creation of more new settlements.”He was among those who were frustrated that the number of approvals were 1,000 less than what had been originally promised. But at Amihai, Liberman said that the construction going on behind him was factual proof of how much settler building was occurring in the West Bank.“I am aware of the argument that occasionally arises over how much building has or has not happened, how many authorizations have or have not been provided,” Liberman said.“First of all, we are at the Amihai site; look around at the work that is happening here now,” Liberman said.“The time has come to tell the truth. We are working at a pace that we have not seen since the year 2000,” Liberman said.He explained that, to date in 2017, tenders had been issued for 3,000 new homes, and plans had been advanced for 7,500 new homes. “Thank God, we have gotten to the kind of numbers we have not seem for a very long time.”
Trump tells Israel to "hold back on settlements" during meeting with Netanyahu at White House on Feb. 15, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)