Wednesday

21st Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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."

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist
  2. Podcast: Navalny, Ian Bremmer and "more Europe"
  3. Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza
  4. Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?
  5. African leaders unveil continent-wide plan to buy medicines
  6. EU urban-rural divide not bridged by cohesion policy, report finds
  7. Impending Rafah disaster shows up politics of humanitarian aid
  8. Sweden heading into Nato, after Orbán-Kristersson deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us