Another provocation by land-grabber Israel
Land grabber Israel is at it again. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of plans to build thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in occupied east Jerusalem is yet another dangerous provocation aimed at dealing a stern blow to the peace process and a two-state solution. This should be seen as a nasty punch in the face of the world community as the project had earlier been effectively frozen after all-round international condemnation. Such moves by Israel mark a major violation of the international law, which says that settlements in all the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, are illegal. Though the construction of 2,610 housing units for Jews in Givat Hamatos was approved by a Jerusalem planning committee in 2014, the Israeli government was forced to put the project on hold after the world community and, even United States, criticised the plan. That’s not all. Boasting about a separate project, Netanyahu has stated that another 2,200 housing units would be built in Har Homa settlement, located like Givat Hamatos in an area of the West Bank. Netanyahu’s claim that he approved the initial construction “despite objections from the entire world” exposes his arrogance and utter disregard for peace and international opinion. The crucial question to be asked is whether a caretaker government under Netanyahu has the right to clear such controversial settlement projects that effectively limit prospects for a future Palestinian state.
Netanyahu’s insistence on building thousands of settlement units is the systematic destruction of the two-state solution and the implementation of the US President Donald Trump’s plan, as Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, points out. It’s the same Netanyahu who recently asserted that Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the occupied West Bank that will be annexed in accordance with Trump’s proposed peace plan. Netanyahu claimed that the area would include all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley. While saying so, Israel conveniently forgot that that the only map that could be accepted by the international community as the map of Palestine was the map of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with occupied Jerusalem as its capital. Trump’s plan would allow Israel to annex all its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem, and that too only if they meet nearly impossible conditions. As per Trump’s plan, Israel would also maintain overriding security responsibility for the State of Palestine, including at the Palestinian state’s international border crossings. The US plan will not bring peace to the region as it annuls the legitimacy of Palestinians’ rights, including the right to self-determination. At the recent African Union (AU) summit to voice solidarity with the Palestinian cause, AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat made it absolutely clear that the Trump plan unveiled in late January represented the “umpteenth violation of multiple United Nations and African Union resolutions”. Israel should be forced to respect the UN Security Council resolutions calling for a full withdrawal from occupied Arab territories. The world community should wake up and rein in the occupation forces before it is too late. If at all anything, repeated violation of international norms by Israel would only lead to more tension and instability in the region.