Jerusalem, 22 November 2021 (TDI): Following the recent announcements by the Israeli authorities, the European Union reiterated its strong opposition to Israel’s policies.
WAFA News Agency reported the visit to the areas of E1 and Qalandia along the outer perimeter of occupied East Jerusalem. It was organized by the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which briefed the diplomats about the settlement plans. They will affect Givat Hamatos, Har Homa, E1, and Qalandia/Atarot.
According to the NGO, several implications include threats of displacement of Bedouin communities, the annexation of Palestinian land in the Jerusalem area, and fragmentation in the West Bank.
Jerusalem Area and EU Policy
During the visit, the diplomats expressed their countries’ strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy. The European Union clearly reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law. Furthermore, the organization does not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem.
European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff made a short statement in which he pointed out that Israel is not fulfilling its obligations as an occupying power. Likewise, recent tensions avoid sustainability between the parties. In that sense, the representative added:
“The recent approvals of thousands of housing units for Israeli settlers aim at disconnecting the Palestinians from their city and changing East Jerusalem’s identity (…) Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and constitute a major obstacle to a just, last and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.
Israel’s settlement policies
Last month, the Israeli Higher Planning Council approved the advancement of plans to build 2,860 new housing units in 30 settlements. Many plans received final approval, while others will be submitted for final validation at a later stage. Moreover, Jerusalem’s district planning committee will hold a meeting on December 6 to discuss the construction of 9,000 new housing units in Atarot.
The European Union, alongside the Palestinian Authority, had said that “even though this is at a very early stage of planning, it constitutes the first significant statutory step to advance a plan that could be as consequential and damaging as the construction of E1. Together, these settlement plans threaten any remaining prospect of an agreed political resolution as they aim at further fragmenting the West Bank and completely separating it from East Jerusalem”.