Despite widespread condemnation, Israeli Prime Minister to build the massive Jewish settlement was finalized after Palestine won de facto UN recognition of statehood.is adamant about going ahead with the latest settlement plan. The push
A defiant Netanyahu brushed off mounting international criticism and declared at the weekly cabinet meeting, "We will carry on building in Jerusalem and in all the places that are on the map of Israel's strategic interests.”
In another dramatic turnaround, Israel decided to withhold Palestinian tax revenues worth about $100 million this month. The harsh move is perceived as Israel’s attempt to punish Palestine for going ahead with the UN bid despite opposion by Israel and the United States.
The construction of 3,000 homes would put an end to Palestinian’s dream of building a contiguous country. Especially, the much ambitious "preliminary zoning and planning work" for thousand of housing units in the zone named as E-1, near Jerusalem, would split the West Bank into two areas, separating the Palestinians.
While the plan to build the homes in E-1 has been on papers for long time, Israel was coerced to freeze its activities in E-1 under pressure from George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Israel claims the right to build cities based on historical and biblical links to the West Bank and Jerusalem, which the international community does not recognize.
The news of 3,000 settler homes have initiated strong international condemnation from the United States, France, Britain and the European Union.
A concerted criticism aired across Europe on Monday, with Britain, France and Sweden meeting the Israeli ambassadors in their respective capitals to air strong disapproval of the Israel’s plan to erect 3,000 extra homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Significantly, this time the European condemnation seems "more than just condemnation." According to reports, Britain and France are contemplating on the option of recalling their envoys from Israel in protest against its decision to expand settlements.
The United Nations too has been voicing strong concerns on the settlement plan. Criticizing Netanyahu’s declaration, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the construction plan by Israel would indicate an almost fatal blow to the materialization of two-nation state. Israel, on the other hand, considers the plan appropriate as Palestine’s unilateral bid to approach the UN is a gross violation of the previous agreements signed with Israel.
The recent developments on the Israeli political front indicate major fallout from the UN vote on Thursday granting observer state status to Palestine. The decision to construct the housing settlements in West Bank, thereby splitting Palestine’s hopes for a homeland, is predicted to cause ripples of confrontation in the Middle East.
In one stroke, Israel has slashed a big cut on the future of moribund Middle East peace process and the international community is left fuming at such a move.
While countries like Britain and France have come out openly to condemn the move, Canada, so far, has sent a muted response. However, international opinion is unanimous this time. Israel is facing isolation from every corner, beginning with the UN acceptance of the Palestinian state and now the widespread condemnation of Netanyahu’s settlement plan in West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israel is splitting the West Bank into two pieces, which is simply not going to work in terms of appeasing the Palestinians. The move predicts familiar, gory scenes of confrontation and violence from both sides. Each side then justifies its claim to security with the help of rockets, mortars, and bloody violence.
There seems to be no road ahead for the advancement of the peace process. Netanyahu leads a pro-settler government and opinion polls indicate his Likud party will regain power in Israel's Jan. 22 parliamentary election, despite opponents' allegations that Netanyahu’s policies have increased Israeli diplomatic isolation in the international sphere.
The Times of India
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