PLO: Approval of East Jerusalem settlement construction an ‘insult’ to peace talks


Buildings in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO members on Tuesday slammed Israel’s recent approval for the construction of 82 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in occupied East Jerusalem, calling the move an “insult” to the credibility of renewed peace negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“The latest approval of settlement construction in the Palestinian capital, in defiance of International law and UN resolutions, serves as yet another reminder to the international community to hold Israel liable for the crimes it continues to commit against the land and people of Palestine,” PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.Erekat pointed out that the continual destruction of Palestinian homes and disruption of their livelihoods to make room for illegal settlement construction has confirmed the need for “decisive action” by the international community to end Israeli violence.Singling out the European Union, Erekat stated: “It is no longer acceptable for world leaders to pay lip-service to the two-state solution while providing Israel with assurances that their impunity will continue to grow.”The Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee approved on Monday two permits to develop 82 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, according to a statement by Israeli NGO Ir Amim.The recent construction approval is part of Israel’s larger plan to push the development of 1,600 settler housing units in the ultra-Orthodox settlement near the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat, which was first announced in 2010 during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden to Israel.Biden condemned the announcement at the time, leading to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries over potential peace talks to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.The recent approval of building permits in Ramat Shlomo comes a little over a month after 900 housing units were approved for constructionin the illegal settlement.In November 2015, the Israeli government also approved 236 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, officially breaking the government freeze on settlement construction that had been in place since 2013 — although settlement construction had continued unabated during that time period.

Erekat slammed Israel’s decision, which was made just a few days after the opening of the Paris peace summit, where representatives from 29 countries, including representatives from the UN, EU, and Arab League, congregated to discuss renewed peace negotiations, calling the move “an insult to the credibility of the international community and its efforts to achieve peace and security for Palestinians, Israelis, and the entire Middle East.”The construction of housing units in Ramat Shlomo will pave the way for more settlers to join to the 15,000 already residing there.All settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land is considered illegal under international law, as the international community has agreed that any peace negotiations would necessitate that the Israeli government freeze new settlement construction.“Israel is spreading outright lies and falsehoods to mask its true intentions of isolating Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs and ethnically cleansing the occupied city of its indigenous population,” PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement on Tuesday.Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and recently appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared their support for the two-state solution at the start of June, and released a joint statement proposing the revival of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which would establish an independent Palestinian state on 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital.The Israeli government has consistently rejected multilateral efforts to renew peace negotiations with the Palestinians, with Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold equating the French initiative as a form of colonization, saying instead that Israel would only consider direct talks between regional parties.“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending a clear message to the international community that the Israeli government is interested only in expansionism, control and pandering to the extremist and racist settler population,” Ashrawi said.Ashrawi called upon the international community to “put an end to Israel’s continued annexation of Palestinian land and its destruction of the two-state solution.”

(Source / 08.06.2016)

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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