EU report: Settlements biggest threat to Palestinian statehood

JERUSALEM Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:16pm EST

A view shows the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem in this picture taken December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

A view shows the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem in this picture taken December 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli settlement construction on occupied land poses the most serious threat to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, European Union consuls general based in the region said in a report released on Wednesday.

The non-binding document by the EU diplomats in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 war, urged European states to be diligent in ensuring settlements are excluded from trade benefits enjoyed by Israel.

"Settlement construction remains the biggest single threat to the two-state solution. It is systematic, deliberate and provocative," the report said.

Israeli leaders have spurned international calls to stop settlement activity on land Palestinians seek for a future state. Citing historical and Biblical links to Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel says it has a right to build there.

The report called for strict application of an EU-Israel trade pact to ensure products from settlements do not receive preferential treatment under the accord in European markets.

It also urged EU states "not to support ... research, education and technological cooperation" and to discourage financial investment in Israeli businesses operating in occupied territory.

European countries, the report added, should consider barring entry to their territory of "known violent settlers".

Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the report unhelpful to efforts to further peace in the region.

"A diplomat's mission is to build bridges and bring people together, not to foster confrontation. The EU consuls have clearly failed in their mission," he said.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks broke down in 2010 after Israel ended a partial moratorium on construction in settlements.

Some 325,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, home to 2.5 million Palestinians. Another 200,000 Israelis live in and around East Jerusalem, where 250,000 Palestinians reside.

The report identified construction in large urban settlements that lie between Jerusalem and the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem as "the most significant and problematic plans" Israel is currently advancing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defying international condemnation of settlement expansion, has also pledged to build some 3,000 settler homes in the so-called E1 corridor near Jerusalem.

The report said building in E1 "is set to cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank". Israel, which announced the project after the United Nations granted de facto recognition to a Palestinian state last November, has said construction in the area is at least a year away.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (1)
MarjorieR wrote:
The EU seems to have forgotten that there’s already a law about settlements. It’s in Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine, ratified by all 52 nations of the League of Nations in 1922:

Article 6

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

Many of the EU states were also nation states of the League of Nations. The Mandate for Palestine, together with the 1920 San Remo Resolution and the 1924 Anglo-American Treaty are Israel’s foundational documents. Further, Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserves of the rights of peoples given them by all previous legal instruments. The Mandate for Palestine has never been amended or abrogated, and Jews still have the right to settle on any land in Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea not occupied by, or owned by, an Arab or Arabs. The West Bank is part of the Jewish homeland and doesn’t belong to any foreign Arab state!

Feb 28, 2013 1:07am EST  --  Report as abuse
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