(November 16, 2020 / JNS) Israel moved ahead on Sunday with plans laid out in February to build 1,257 housing units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos.
The Israel Lands Authority opened construction tenders for contractors, Reuters reported on Monday, in a move that has elicited criticism from the Palestinian Authority, the European Union and the United Nations.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that settlements were illegal under international law and was part of Israel’s efforts “to kill the internationally-backed two-state solution,” according to the report.
“This is a key location between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Any settlement construction will cause serious damage to the prospects for a viable and contiguous Palestinian State,” E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement, according to the report.
Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to the Middle East peace process, echoed those sentiments. “If built, [these housing units] would further consolidate a ring of settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank,” he said, according to AP.
E.U. representatives touring Givat Hamatos on Monday were confronted by Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King and members of the Im Tirtzu movement, who called them “anti-Semites” and told them to “go home.”
International human-rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky defended the Israeli government’s decision to build the housing units. In an interview with WION (India) on Monday, he said, “Just as it is not controversial for India to build homes in its capital, New Delhi, it should not be controversial for Israel to build homes in its capital, Jerusalem.”
Last November, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo U.S. announced a reversal of the 1978 State Department legal opinion that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are “inconsistent with international law.”
“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” he said. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.