After a visit, today to the sensitive areas of E1 and Qalandia along the outer perimeter of occupied East Jerusalem following the recent announcements by the Israeli authorities of advancements of major settlements’ plans in the areas, Heads of Mission and representatives from the European Union and likeminded countries reiterated their countries’ strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy.
The visit was organized by the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which briefed the diplomats about the extremely worrying consequences of the settlement plans for Givat Hamatos, Har Homa, E1, and Qalandia/Atarot. Likely implications include threats of displacement of Bedouin communities, moves towards continued de facto annexation of Palestinian land in the Jerusalem area, and further fragmentation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
During the visit, the diplomats expressed their countries’ strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions, reiterating that settlements are illegal under international law and significantly undermine ongoing efforts to rebuild trust.
As stated consistently, the EU and like-minded countries will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties, the European diplomats said in a statement about the visit.
“The recent approvals of thousands of housing units for Israeli settlers aim at disconnecting the Palestinians from their city and changing East Jerusalem’s identity. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and constitute a major obstacle to a just, last and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Such actions are not only in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power,they also undermine steps towards sustainable peace between the parties and fuel tensions on the ground.” said the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
Last month, the Israeli Higher Planning Council approved the advancement of plans to build 2,860 new housing units in 30 settlements. Part of the plans received final approval for validation, while others will be submitted for final approval at a later stage. On December 6 the Jerusalem’s district planning committee will hold a hearing to discuss the construction of 9,000 housing units in Atarot.
Even though this is at a very early stage of planning, it constitutes the first significant statutory step to advance a plan that could be as consequential and damaging as the construction of E1. Together, these settlement plans threaten any remaining prospect of an agreed political resolution as they aim at further fragmenting the West Bank and completely separating it from East Jerusalem, concluded the statement.