THU 12 - 12 - 2019
Sep 12, 2019
The Daily Star
New data shows Israeli settlement surge in east Jerusalem
Netanyahu’s annexation pledge draws fury
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: New official data obtained by The Associated Press shows a spike in Jewish settlement construction in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
It also shows decades of systematic discrimination, illustrated by a huge gap in the number of building permits granted to Jewish and Palestinian residents.
Jewish settlement expansion in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, threatens to further complicate one of the thorniest issues in the conflict - the fate of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians view settlement expansion as a major obstacle to peace. The refusal to grant permits to Palestinian residents has confined them to crowded neighborhoods, with around half the population believed to be at risk of having their homes demolished.
Netanyahu’s annexation pledge draws fury
Agence France Presse
CAIRO: Arab and Muslim countries Wednesday led a wave of outcries after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex a key part of the occupied West Bank if re-elected. Netanyahu’s controversial pledge involves extending Israel’s sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea which account for one-third of the West Bank if he wins next week’s elections. It would not include, however, annexing any Palestinian cities such as Jericho.
The pre-election promise late Tuesday drew immediate condemnation from Arab powerhouses with many warning of disastrous consequences for the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“The announcement constitutes a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression,” Arab foreign ministers said. They also warned in a statement of “the ramifications of these dangerous, illegal and irresponsible” moves saying it would “undermine the chances of progress in the peace process.”
Jordanian and Palestinian officials said any such measure risks “killing off” and “destroying” the entire peace process.
Jordan’s House Speaker Atef al-Tawarneh went as far as to warn Wednesday that any such move could even put the country’s peace treaty with Israel - only one of two with Israel’s neighbors - “at stake.”
Damascus “strongly condemned” Netanyahu’s vow, with a Syrian Foreign Ministry source telling the state news agency SANA that it was an “expansionist” plan in “flagrant violation” of international treaties.
Saudi Arabia flagged the announcement as a “dangerous escalation,” and convened an “emergency meeting” of the foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah Sunday to discuss the issue. United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan denounced Netanyahu’s proposal as “electoral exploitation in the most heinous form.” While the Gulf Cooperation Council’s chief Abdellatif al-Zayani, characterized the Israeli prime minister’s rhetoric as a “dangerous and aggressive provocation.”
Beyond the Arab world, Turkey slammed Netanyahu’s pledge as “racist.” Ankara would “defend [the] rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers and sisters till the end,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. The United Nations remonstrated that Netanyahu’s plan would have no “international legal effect.”
Meanwhile, the European Union said the pledge undermines any prospects for peace. “The policy of settlement construction and expansion ... is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement.
When announcing his pledge, the Israeli prime minister said he would take the step in coordination with his ally, U.S. President Donald Trump.
But by Wednesday evening there had still been no official U.S. reaction to Netanyahu’s latest statements. Israel has enjoyed a strong U.S. support under the Trump administration which in a highly controversial move overturned decades of U.S. policy to recognize the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state in 2017. Earlier in 2019, Trump also declared Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, among 3 million Palestinians.
Arab and Muslim leaders have unanimously decried the U.S. moves backing Netanyahu’s policies, insisting instead on achieving a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as its capital.
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