Thursday, September 29, 2011

Condemnation grows against Israel's settlement plans

The settlement of Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
(MaanImages/Iyad Atayat, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Pressure is growing against Israel as Russia and Turkey added their voices to the international condemnation against the recent approval of 1,100 housing units in East Jerusalem.

"We are particularly concerned that decisions on such a sensitive matter should be taken at an extremely important time for the future of the peace process," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We are counting (on Israel) so that the construction projects in East Jerusalem are reviewed."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, saying: "Israel's decision raises serious suspicions about its sincerity and true intentions. This is a flagrant violation of international law and is not acceptable," Israeli news site Ynet reported on Thursday.

"Israel's continued construction of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands shows once more that the Palestinian demand to be recognized as a state at the United Nations is justified and timely," the statement said.

Europeans nations Britain, France and Italy also condemned the move, with China, Japan and Egypt also issuing statements.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr called the move "provocative" while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing that it "regrets" Israeli settlement plans.

Quartet representative Tony Blair expressed concern on Wednesday about Israel's decision, official news agency WAFA reported.

“Our position has always been very clear in opposing construction in settlements, and any acts that are not in accordance with the obligations of the parties in the Road Map,” WAFA quoted a statement from Blair's office saying.

Israel's decision “is a cause for concern at a time when we are working to restart negotiations.”

“Last Friday's Quartet statement called on all the parties to refrain from provocative actions and I repeat that call today.”

The Quartet issued a statement calling on Palestinians and Israel to resume direct peace talks within a month and commit to seeking a deal by the end of 2012. The proposal did not mention a settlement freeze.

President Mahmoud Abbas met Wednesday with members of the central committee of his Fatah movement to discuss the Quartet's proposal and the UN move.

Fatah official Jamal Muhsein told Ma'an on Wednesday that a response to the Quartet's proposal will be made after the PLO's executive committee convenes on Thursday.

AFP contributed to this report


Maan News Agency