Israeli settlements constitute an obstacle to peace: Mogherini

Brussels/PNN/

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said yesterday that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.

“Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states,” she said during a speech at the European Parliament plenary debate on the situation in Israel and Palestine.

“Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law; they constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible,” Mogherini remarked.

She continued, “There will not be peace without a strong political commitment by both sides and by the international community. On the European Union side, we have always been and we will continue to be ready to support, to encourage, to accompany all efforts to build peace and security and a negotiated two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.”

“Yet we should all know that the two-state solution remains – I am profoundly convinced of this – the best and the only realistic chance for peace and also for security in the Holy Places.”

Israel to construct 11,000 new settler units near occupied Jerusalem: Report

Israeli officials are planning to construct thousands of new settler units near Jerusalem irrespective of international outcry against Israeli land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, a report says.

Israeli Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported on Thursday that the so-called Israeli ministry of construction and housing is working on a project on the territory of the abandoned Qalandiya Airport in order to expand Atarot settlement, which lies north of Jerusalem.

The report added that the plan includes the construction of 11,000 settler units on an area of nearly 600 dunams (148.2 acres), and stretches from the non-operational regional airport to Qalandiya checkpoint.

Israel Hayom said the land was confiscated in the early 1970s by the then ruling Israeli Labor Party. The project includes digging a tunnel under the northernmost Palestinian neighborhood of Kafr Aqab in East Jerusalem to connect the new neighborhood to the eastern flank of the occupied holy city.

The daily newspaper went on to say that the settlement project had been drawn up several years ago, but was frozen in the wake of international political pressure against Israel’s settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Former Israeli minister of construction and housing, Yoav Galant, issued orders to resume work on the settlement project after US President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Less than a month before Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem”.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.