Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Saeb Erekat, in a statement, strongly condemned the latest Israeli announcement to expand illegal settlements in and around the Occupied East Jerusalem. “This announcement amounts to evidence of an intent to further commit crimes defined by and punishable under international law,” stressed Erekat.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered to advance plans to construct 1,060 new illegal housing units in East Jerusalem settlements; 660 new units in ‘Ramot Shlomo’, and 400 in ‘Har Homa’, in addition to paving 12 new settlement roads in the West Bank.
Erekat said the international community must take decisive action in order to save the two-state solution from the colonial expansionism of the State of Israel, through recognizing Palestine as a state based on the 1967 borders, supporting efforts to set a deadline to end the Israeli occupation, and by banning all settlement products and divesting from all organizations and companies linked directly or indirectly to the Israeli occupation, colonization and Apartheid policies.
This settlement expansion coincides with proposed Israeli legislation to change the status quo over Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the seizure of 35 Palestinian homes in Silwan by state-supported extreme-right settlers. Regarding Israel’s Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s announcement of his intent to occupy a seized Palestinian home in Silwan, Erekat said that such action, “is just another shocking reminder of Israel’s accelerating efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn the Holy City of three faiths into an exclusive Jewish city.”
Meanwhile, chairman of Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel) and member of the Israeli Knesset, Mohammed Barakeh, said that in three weeks before the latest endorsement by Netanyahu, the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem approved blueprints for 2,600 settlement units near the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa. That would bring the total number of settlement units, whose construction is underway, to 3,700, said MK Barakeh. The high ranking Communist Knesset member concluded that besides continuing with his settlement expansion, Netanyahu aims to foil peace and make it impossible to resume negotiations between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides.