‘Just a few more apartments’: Bibi dismisses concerns over Israeli settlements
Ben White, Middle East Eye, Jul 10 2016
Jun 23 in Jayloomia (Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP)
Israel’s prime minister claims that his recent approval of 800 new housing units in illegal settlements will not be ‘preventing peace.’ Benjamin Netanyahu is a busy man; he certainly doesn’t have time to deal seriously with international objections, even from allies, to petty topics such as settlement expansion. That was the impression Israel’s prime minister gave on Wednesday, when he dismissed Pindosi concerns about the recent approval of 800 new housing units in settlements. “A few more apartments near the municipality of Ma’ale Adumim” are not “preventing peace,” as Bibi said. This was classic Bibi disingenuousness. Israel’s settlements in the OPT are illegal, all of them, including the so-called “municipality” of Ma’ale Adumim. These colonies don’t somehow pass a threshold of legality when they reach a certain size. From the largest city settlement to the smallest hilltop caravan, the settlements are illegal. The issue is not the addition of a balcony here or a housing unit there. The point is that settlements fly in the face of the law, human rights, and the territorial contiguity of occupied lands. That said, and for all the political games that go into settlement announcements, the steps taken in recent years by the Israeli state to colonise more Palestinian land are not insignificant. In 2015, for example, some 62,000 dunums of land were “ratified” by the Israeli authorities as “state land,” the largest such amount since 2005. Ratification is a necessary precursor to the allocation of land for settlement expansion, or for retroactively “legalising” unauthorised settler outposts. In Aug 2014, Israel declared 1,000 acres in the Beit Lehem region to be “state land” ready for settlement construction. Under Bibi, new construction in settlements beyond the Wall has grown as a proportion of the total from 20% to 35%. Thus for Israel to continue to build new houses in the settlements, to expand the settlements and oversee an ever-rising settler population, sends a clear message: the Israeli government has no respect for international law, and rejects the Palestinians’ basic rights. Also this week, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz urged the government to annex major illegal settlements Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Illit and Gush Etzion. A bill proposing the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim will soon be introduced in the Knesset.
Netanyahu Rejects Pindo Criticism of Settlement Expansion as ‘Unacceptable’
Haaretz, Jul 6 2016
Netanyahu responded Wednesday afternoon to
Pindosi criticism a planted question regarding the construction of 800 housing units in Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, saying:
We are familiar with the Pindo position. It’s not new and it’s unacceptable for us. Construction in Jerusalem and construction in Ma’ale Adumim, with all due respect, is not what distances peace. What prevents peace is first and foremost the persistent incitement against the existence of the State of Israel and it’s about time that all the nations of the world recognize this simple reality. And there’s another truth: The way to solve conflicts is through negotiations. We are always ready to conduct direct negotiations without preconditions with our neighbors, but they aren’t prepared to do the same. These are the two things preventing peace and not a few more apartments near the municipality of Ma’ale Adumim or a few neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
At the beginning of the week, Bibi & Yvet approved a plan for 800 new units to be built over the green line: 560 of them in Ma’ale Adumim and 240 in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, Gilo and Har Homa. Simultaneously, the two approved the construction of 600 units for Palestinians in Givat HaMatos in East Jerusalem. A Pindo State Dept spox said:
If it’s true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions, and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.
UN Sec-Gen Ban’s spox said:
We are deeply disappointed. This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank.