EU chief: Israeli settlement plans detrimental to the two-state solution

European Union High Representative, Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell warned that Israeli settlement announcements would be detrimental to two-state solution.

“The Israeli authorities have announced an imminent decision regarding settlement construction in the Givat Hamatos and Har Homa neighborhoods in East Jerusalem,” he said in a statement. “Such steps would be deeply detrimental to a two-state-solution.”

He added: “As set out clearly on numerous occasions by the European Union, including in Council conclusions, such steps would cut the geographic and territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, isolate Palestinian communities living in these areas, and threaten the viability of a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as capital of both states.”

Borrell stressed that settlements are illegal under international law. “The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. We call on Israel to reconsider these plans,” he said.

The European official’s announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that 3,000 new settlement units would be built for Israeli settlers in a new neighborhood in the illegal Givat Hamatos settlement, in addition to another 2,200 settlements units in the nearby Har Homa neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

Borrell stressed that the Israeli plans are “incompatible with international law”.

Bids for 1,000 settlement units in Jerusalem

In this context, an official Israeli channel reported, on Sunday 23 February 2020, that the office of the outgoing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Ministry of Construction and Housing are about to announce in a couple of days bids to build about 1,000 settlement units in Givat Hamatos area (outpost), south of occupied Jerusalem.

Kan channel added that the Jerusalem municipality will issue bids within days, approved by Netanyahu’s office and the Ministry of Housing, to build around 1,000 settlement units in Givat Hamatos.

The channel explained that there is talk about bids that will be implemented in the region in which settlement construction was frozen in 2014, due to the American and German opposition at the time to settlement.

For his part, a senior official in the Jerusalem municipality has confirmed this information, adding to the channel that the difference between the approval of the construction that was frozen in the year 2014, and the approval this time, is that there are bids that will be publicly carried out in the coming days.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu took a tour around the Givat Hamatos area, saying that construction restrictions in the area no longer exist.

During the past three days, the EU, Germany, Turkey, France, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority condemned “Israel’s decision” to expand settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

On the same day, Netanyahu revealed plans to build 5,200 new settlement units in East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu pointed out that 2,200 units would be established in the Har Homa settlement, built on the lands of Jabal Abu Ghneim, in addition to 3,000 units in Givat Hamatos, south of East Jerusalem.

The decision comes less than two weeks before the early “Israeli Knesset” elections, scheduled for 2 March.

The international community considers settlement in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as illegal.

According to the data of the Israeli Peace Now organization, there are 13 illegal outposts in East Jerusalem.