Approval of new settler homes sabotages two-state solution - PA

Israel is advancing a plan to build 3,988 new homes in the West Bank despite opposition from the US.

 Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas speaks during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank cityof Ramallah on July 03, 2019. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas speaks during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank cityof Ramallah on July 03, 2019.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

The Israeli government’s plan to build thousands of housing units in West Bank settlements is a “blatant challenge” to the US administration and the international community, the Palestinian Authority said over the weekend.  

The plan constitutes “a serious threat to the chances of achieving peace and restoring the political horizon for resolving the conflict in accordance with principle of the two-state solution,” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs cautioned in a statement.

The ministry called on the US administration “to move quickly to pressure the Israeli government to stop this decision and attacks by settlers and their terrorist organizations against defenseless Palestinian civilians.”

The PA was responding to a plan to advance the construction of 3,988 settler homes. 

The Higher Planning Council is scheduled later this week to give its final approval for 2,536 new homes and allow for the deposit of plans for 1,452 other homes.

 A Palestinian man walks down the stairs of a building as the Israeli settlement of Dolev is seen, near Ramallah in the West Bank January 26, 2020. Picture taken January 26, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) A Palestinian man walks down the stairs of a building as the Israeli settlement of Dolev is seen, near Ramallah in the West Bank January 26, 2020. Picture taken January 26, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns in the strongest terms what was reported by the Hebrew media regarding the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to build thousands of new settlement units in the occupied West Bank with the aim of deepening the existing settlements and building more outposts at the expense of the occupied land of the State of Palestine,” the statement read.

The ministry welcomed the position announced by the US State Department regarding the settlement homes.

On Friday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said that the US administration strongly opposes the expansion of settlements “which exacerbates tensions and undermines trust between the parties.” She further warned that the move would damage the prospects for a two-state solution.”

But the PA ministry said that the US stance was “insufficient,” adding that Israel was continuing to ignore the positions of Washington and the international community on settlements.

The ministry held the Israeli government “fully and directly responsible for these expansionist colonial plans and their impact on the chances of achieving peace.”

It said that the Palestinians were following up this issue with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations.

PA presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh also condemned the plan to build new settler homes.

He and other Palestinian officials also condemned the recent decision by the High Court of Justice to evict eight Palestinian villages near Hebron. The court ruled that the Palestinians living there were not permanent residents of the area when the IDF fist declared it a firing zone in the 1980s.

“We call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and turn the silent condemnation of settlements into action by putting pressure on the Israeli government to stop its unilateral measures of settlements and killing, attempts to change the status quo in the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and incursions into Palestinian cities and villages,” Abu Rudaineh said.

He called on the US administration to “assume its responsibilities towards stopping this Israeli recklessness that pushes matters towards escalation and tension and more violence.”

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned of the “serious consequences” that would result from the approval of the plan to build new settlement units and the decision to evict the Palestinians from their villages near Hebron.

“These plans constitute a threat to security and peace in the region, which is in a state of tension due to the policies and practices of persecution, racism and ethnic cleansing pursued by the occupation government against the Palestinian people,” Shtayyeh argued.

He too called on the US administration “to intervene urgently to stop these violations, as they pose a serious threat to the chances of a two-state solution, and to work hard to open a political horizon that gives hope to the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights.”