Tags: israel | jerusalem | settlements | europe

Israeli Plan for Jerusalem Settlements Strains US, Europe Ties

Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 06:59 AM

Israel’s plan to build hundreds of homes on Jerusalem land the Palestinians claim for a future state has drawn fire from the U.S. and European Union, creating new tensions with key allies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said yesterday the government will advance planning for about 1,000 new homes in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem, and new infrastructure for Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“We have built in Jerusalem, we are building in Jerusalem, and we will continue to build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said today at the laying of the cornerstone for the new Ashdod port. “I have heard charges that building in Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods brings us further from peace. These statements are detached from reality, they are falsehoods that thrive among the Palestinians.”

Israel’s top allies didn’t see it that way.

“We view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington yesterday. “Israel’s leaders have said they support a two-state solution, but moving forward with this kind of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”

The Jerusalem building plan is “ill-timed and ill- judged,” Maja Kocijancici, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters in Brussels. “We stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution,” she said.

Already Strained

Israel’s ties with the U.S., already strained by previous settlement announcements and differences over Iran policy, are further fraying at a time when the Netanyahu government is counting on American support to block Palestinian efforts to promote its statehood efforts at the United Nations and other international forums.

Netanyahu’s move to speed up the Jerusalem construction plans is meant “to appease his internal coalition opposition on the right,” which is pushing to build in east Jerusalem, said Yehuda Ben-Meir, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

“The problem now with the timing is the fact that we are in the middle of a crisis in the American-Israeli relationship,” said Ben-Meir, a former deputy foreign minister, “and this crisis needs to be dealt with, and not exacerbated.”

European Support

The Palestinians, meanwhile, have drawn more support in Europe for their statehood campaign, with Sweden saying it will soon formally recognize a Palestinian state and Britain’s parliament casting a symbolic vote of recognition.

The Palestinians have also called on UN Security-General Ban Ki-moon to hold an emergency Security Council meeting this week on the status of Jerusalem.

Arab neighborhoods of the city have been roiled by unrest for months, with some residents hurling stones and firebombs at police and vehicles driven by Jewish residents. The violence turned deadly last week after a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem drove his car into a crowd waiting at a light-rail station, killing two people.

Palestinian leaders say the unrest is being driven by the failure of peace efforts, Jewish settlement of homes in Arab neighborhoods, and efforts to allow Jewish prayer at a contested holy site. About 300,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized from Jordan along with the West Bank in 1967. More than half a million Jews live in the city.

Netanyahu has said that Israel, which annexed east Jerusalem in a move that isn’t internationally recognized, won’t share sovereignty over the city with the Palestinians.


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Israel's plan to build hundreds of homes on Jerusalem land the Palestinians claim for a future state has drawn fire from the U.S. and European Union, creating new tensions with key allies.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said yesterday the government will advance...
israel, jerusalem, settlements, europe
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2014-59-28
Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 06:59 AM
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