Monday

23rd Jan 2017

EU struggling to keep up with Israeli settlement plans

EU countries in the UN Security Council have condemned Israel's plan to build in the E1 area, while the EU foreign service has criticised plans for a new settlement in Givat Hamatos.

The British ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, on Wednesday (19 December) in New York read out to press a joint statement by the four EU countries on the UN Security Council - Britain, France, Germany and Portugal.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Jerusalem: E1 and Givat Hamatos will cut off the holy city from the rest of Palestine (Photo: RonnyPohl)

It said the E1 plan "would risk cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and could also entail the forced transfer of civilian population," referring to the future of the 290,000-or-so Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem.

It added that "Israel's announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate." It also said they are "detrimental to any international efforts to ... secure a two-state solution" and urged it to "rescind" its decision.

Ten other UNSC members - Azerbaijan, China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa and Togo - published similar statements on Wednesday.

They left Israel in a minority of 14 to one, with its ally, the US, the only UNSC member to stay on its side, in a situation recalling Israeli-US isolation in a UN vote last month on upgrading Palestine's status.

In a separate development also on Wednesday, the EU foreign service criticised Israel for saying it will build 2,610 housing units in the Givat Hamatos area.

Speaking for the 27 member states, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton said: "This plan for Givat Hamatos would cut the geographic continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem [in the Palestinian-run West Bank]."

She hinted that EU punitive action might follow: "The EU will closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act accordingly."

EU diplomats have in the past mooted restrictions on settler-made exports and travel bans on settler radicals.

They were always blocked by pro-Israeli countries in the EU Council. But Germany and The Netherlands recently lurched away from the pro-Israeli camp, leaving the Czech Republic as its only reliable friend.

The E1 and Givat Hamatos plans are getting special attention because they will split Palestine into three cantons and take away its capital.

But Israel earlier this week also said it will build 1,500 new units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement and 1,000 new homes in Givat Ze'ev, Har Homa, Karnei Shomron and Efrat. It is expected to give the green light to more building in the Mordot Gilo South settlement on Thursday or Friday, while settler groups say they want 20,000 to 50,000 more housing units on Palestinian land in the coming years.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in Jerusalem thumbed his nose at critics.

"We are going to build in Jerusalem for all its residents, this is something that has been done by all previous governments and this is something that my government will continue to do ... Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years," he told press.

His UN ambassador in New York, Ron Prosor, held up a big map of Israel at his press briefing, saying: "What about Israel's contiguity? What about Jewish contiguity?"

He added that EU diplomats should be talking about scud missiles in Syria or the Muslim militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon instead of the Israeli settlements.

Apart from its nods to the presence of Jews in Jerusalem since Biblical times, Israel has said it is building settlements in retaliation against Palestine's recent initiative to become a UN "observer state."

But Israeli commentators say that another motive is Netanyahu's bid to get right-wing votes in elections in January.

Kerry to EU: Believe in yourself

Outgoing US secretary of state gives EU short pep talk from Davos, hailing its peaceful and economic success. 'It's worked, folks', he said.

Moldova turns from EU to Russia

Moldova's president said he would like to scrap an EU treaty and has started preparations to join a Russia-led bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey