With the recent announcements that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had approved the construction of thousands of new housing units, the United States of America today expressed opposition on Israel’s decision to build more than 3,000 new settlements in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
In his remarks today in Washington DC, Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner said the United States opposes all unilateral actions, including West Bank settlement activity and housing construction in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Toner says such action complicates efforts to resume direct, bilateral negotiations, and risk prejudging the outcome of those negotiations.
“This includes building in the E-1 area as this area is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”– Mr. Toner
The US has made clear to the Israeli Government that such action is contrary to U.S. policy.
He says the US and the international community expect all parties to play a constructive role in efforts to achieve peace.
The US urges the parties to cease unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations so all the issues can be discussed and the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security can be realized.
In June this year, Israeli Government had announced its plans to build 300 new units in the Palestinian territory at the Beit El settlement.
Media reports say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the construction of the new units hours after the parliament rejected a bill to legalize settlement outposts.
With the recent announcement of the planned settlements in West Bank, a top United Nations envoy has reiterated that all settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory represents a breach of international law.
UN Coordinator Calls For Action
Mr. Serry said the announcement is “deeply troubling” and reiterated his recent warning to the Security Council that “if the parties do not grasp the current opportunity, they should realize the implication is not merely slowing progress toward a two-State solution. Instead, we could be moving down the path toward a one-State reality, which would also move us further away from regional peace in the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative.”
In addition, new United Nations report revealed that Palestinian development is hampered by ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements.
The UN report highlighted that the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories remains “extremely worrying and precarious.”
International Labour Organization Report
According to the International Labour Organization, the ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, which is to be an essential part of a future Palestinian state continues to be under full Israeli control, with Palestinians denied access to their livelihoods and to one another.
The report – The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories – appears as an appendix in the ILO Director-General’s annual report to the 101st International Labour Conference, taking place in Geneva.
The report notes that the deteriorating conditions for workers are due to the realities of the occupation on the ground and the unabated expansion of Israeli settlements.
The report also notes the need for the Middle East peace process to encompass institutions and policies for job creation, social dialogue, gender equality, social security, and fair incomes.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September last year following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.