Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Palestinian Authority Seeks to Freeze Settlement Expansion | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A general view taken on March 29, 2016 shows Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of east Jerusalem. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Ramallah – The Palestinian Authority asked the U.S. administration to interfere and put an end to Israeli settlement expansion, while some officials accused President Donald Trump of encouraging this policy.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Palestinian authority seeks to cooperate with the Trump administration.

They said the authority does not want to anger the new administration, and would rather take its time before filing a complaint withthe Security Council.

The sources indicated that at the same time, Palestinians can’t stay silent towards settlement expansion.

On Tuesday, Israel announced it was approving permits for some 3,000 new homes in settlements sprinkled throughout the West Bank. The move came a week after the approval of some 2,500 homes in the territory and another 500 in East Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “just a taste of what’s to come.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the announcement of new settlements. He said: “We have started urgent consultations in order to take the necessary measures to confront settlement activities.”

Abu Rudeineh did not elaborate on what steps were being considered or who was taking part in the meeting. He urged the U.S. government to take action to “rein in” Israel.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Wednesday that Israel’s building plans signaled the death knell for the two-state solution, blaming the Trump administration for being complicit.

“The silence of the new American government, including those who actively support the settlements in the White House and the administration as a whole, has emboldened Netanyahu to persist with his settlement activities,” she said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry agreed with Ashrawi’s statement and accused the U.N and international community, primarily the U.S., of using “silent policy” which provided Israel with the cover to proceed with the construction.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has also accused the Trump administration of encouraging Israeli settlement construction, and hurting the chances of a two-state outcome.

“We Palestinians are so worried,” said Erekat during a telephone interview with Newsweek. “[Trump] does not comment. Trump is Trump and it’s up to him what he will do with the settlement policies. At the end of the day, peace is made between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that Palestinians were very concerned. “If that’s the trend of four years: God help us, God help the whole world.”

The announcement appeared to be an attempt by the Israeli government to calm settler anger over the court-ordered removal of Amona.

In a statement late Tuesday night, the Israeli Defense Ministry said the new construction “comes as part of a return to normal life in Judea and Samaria, as well as conduct which provides real solutions to housing and living needs.”

The new homes will include 700 homes in Alfei Menashe, 650 in Beitar Illit, 650 in Beit Arye, 200 in Nofim, 150 in Nokdim, 100 in Shilo, 100 in Karnei Shomron and 100 in Metsudot Yehuda.