Monday

18th Mar 2019

Israel ignores EU and US, piles on settlements

  • Settler shows map of Israeli city in West Bank (Photo: [john])

Israel has said it will build 942 more homes for Jewish settlers on occupied land in the teeth of US, EU and Palestinian criticism.

The announcement, on Tuesday (13 August), comes after it said on Sunday it will build 1,187 new homes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Its housing minister, Uri Ariel, added on Israeli radio on Wednesday morning: "We are going to construct thousands of settlements this year in Judea-Samaria [the occupied West Bank]. No one can dictate to us where we can build or not."

The developments come as Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are to meet in Jerusalem on Wednesday for a new round of peace talks.

A senior official in the the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said the settlements "threaten to provoke the collapse of the negotiations," just as they did in 2010.

An official in Hamas, a Palestinian group which holds sway in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, said the talks are "futile."

The US, the main sponsor of the peace process, also criticised Israel.

Secretary of state John Kerry told press while visiting Brazil on Tuesday the settlements are "illegitimate."

He noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him the new homes will be built on land which is likely to be swapped with the Palestinians for other territory in any final deal.

"We still believe it would be better not to be doing it, but there are realities within life in Israel that also have to be taken into account," Kerry said.

A spokesman for the EU foreign service, Michael Mann, this week described the settlements as "illegal."

Some EU officials believe Israel has no intention of finalising borders because it wants to keep expanding.

Last month, the Union blocked funding for Israeli firms which operate beyond EU-recognised borders.

The new rules oblige Israel to sign territorial clauses in funding agreements which stipulate where Israeli sovereignty ends.

Israeli and EU officials are to meet in Tel Aviv also on Wednesday to discuss whether Israel will take part in Horizon 2020, the EU's multi-billion-euro research programme, in light of the new restrictions.

Israeli paper the Jerusalem Post said Israel's top delegate, Irit Ben-Abba, will tell the EU the territoriality clause is unacceptable.

But Israeli daily Haaretz says the US backs the EU initiative.

An Israeli official told the paper that when Israel's ambassador to the EU, David Walzer, met with a senior EU official, Helga Schmid, in Brussels last week, she told him: "You should know that we received support for the new guidelines on the settlements from all the European Union's member states … We're also receiving tacit support from the American administration."

For their part, several members of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ), a Tel-Aviv-based NGO, have signed a petition telling the EU its new rules are wrong.

IAJLJ president, Irit Kohn, told EUobserver they did it in their personal capacity because the NGO does not do politics.

She noted, also in her personal capacity, that Europeans should not underestimate the "pain" caused to families of Israeli victims by Israel's release, on Tuesday, of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the peace process.

She added that average Israeli people feel the "whole world is against us" and that "Palestinians and Arab states just want to wipe out Israel."

A former Israeli official, who asked not to be named, told this website: "No one believes anything good will come from the negotiations. So we are doing what we really believe in: Building settlements and preventing the creation of a Palestinian state."

News in Brief

  1. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  2. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  3. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  4. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  5. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  6. European woman older when having first baby
  7. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on
  8. Asylum applications in the EU down to 580,800 in 2018

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  2. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  5. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us