Israel entrenching a ‘one-state reality,’ Germany tells UNSC

Outside the confines of the UNSC, the EU and other European member states have also condemned the Givat Hamatos project.

A view of Jerusalm is seen from the disputed Givat Hamatos neighborhood (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A view of Jerusalm is seen from the disputed Givat Hamatos neighborhood
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Jewish building over the pre-1967 line, such as in Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem – as well as continued IDF demolitions of Palestinian structures – are leading to a one-state reality, Germany’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Günter Sautter told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, latest developments and negative trends on the ground imperil the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution on the basis of international law,” Sautter told the UNSC at its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He warned that “these developments are increasingly entrenching a one-state reality.”
The virtual meeting took place at the same time as the historic trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
On Sunday, just three days before the parley that seemed to open new vistas for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the Israel Lands Authority published a tender for 1,257 homes for a project in a controversial area of Jerusalem known as Givat Hamatos.
On Wednesday, Channel 11 reported that Netanyahu is also looking to approve thousands of units for Jewish homes in the unbuilt area of Atarot in east Jerusalem and has sought approval from the Trump administration for such construction.
Israel had agreed to suspend plans to annex West Bank settlements in exchange for normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The issue of Jerusalem had not been raised because Israel formally annexed east Jerusalem in 1980.
In his briefing to the council, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said the project “would further consolidate a ring of settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. It would also significantly damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian state.”
Mladenov also spoke of the Israeli demolition of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C, a move that concerns the international community because building permits are rarely issued to Palestinians.
“On 3 November, Israeli authorities carried out the most extensive demolition in the occupied West Bank in the past decade, destroying over 70 structures, including homes, in the Bedouin village of Humsa al Bqai’a in Area C. Seventy-three people were displaced, including 41 children.
“Their vulnerability is compounded by the onset of winter and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Mladenov said.
The UN envoy as well as many of the council’s 15 members condemned the Givat Hamatos project, painting a discouraging picture of events on the ground in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Sautter spoke of his country’s support for a two-state resolution to the conflict based on the pre-1967 lines and said it is important to clarify that territory over the Green Line is not part of Israel.
“We remind all states to distinguish in their relevant dealings between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,” he said.
French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière said that “suspension of annexation projects must become a definitive measure and must not be replaced by increasing fait accompli on the ground, which would be an equivalent of de facto annexation of Palestinian territory.”
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said she felt that the situation in the Middle East is at a turning point, particularly with regard to the Abraham Accords.
“The Abraham Accords have made peace all the more possible. We are witnessing the accumulating fruits of the accords with each passing day.
“It is clear that the Abraham Accords have created a real momentum, and it is with my sincere hopes that the Palestinians will seize this moment. The US ‘Vision for Peace’ provides a flexible framework for negotiations,” she said.
“The Vision’s recommendations are not written in stone; its outcomes are not fixed. It is an invitation to resume the path toward peace. It is rooted in good faith, good intentions and reality. There are two places set at this table,” she said.
Craft accused the UNSC members of harming the peace process with their negative rhetoric.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are quickly putting decades of diplomatic failure behind us. The time is long overdue for these monthly meetings to be repurposed by replacing counterproductive rhetoric that only serves to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Craft said.
Outside the confines of the UNSC, the EU and other European member states have also condemned the Givat Hamatos project.
On Monday, Irish Foreign Ministry officials met with Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Ophir Kariv on the Givat Hamatos project.
“Senior officials in my department met the Israeli ambassador today to underline Ireland’s serious concerns at the expansion of settlements in this strategically sensitive area between Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
Italy, the Netherlands and Norway also condemned the project.
The final date to submit bids for the project is January 18, 2021, two days before US President Donald Trump is scheduled to leave office. Trump’s peace plan recognized that the area of Givat Hamatos would be part of Israel’s final sovereign border in any two-state resolution to the conflict.
US President-elect Joe Biden, on the other hand, is expected to hold that the area of Givat Hamatos should be part of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu and Biden held their first phone call since the US election on Monday night. Givat Hamatos was not mentioned in the public statements either country made with regard to the phone call.