The European Union has raised the alarm at new settlement construction plans by Israel in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, calling on the regime to halt the expansionist plan “as a matter of urgency.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson Peter Stano warned that the plans would severely undermine future negotiations towards the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel wants to build 540 new settler units in the Har Homa neighborhood southeast of Jerusalem al-Quds, and more than 2,000 additional units in Givat Hamatos area northwest of Har Homa.
The illegal projects would effectively cut off the West Bank from East Jerusalem al-Quds and isolate the Palestinian Beit Safafa neighborhood, located to the west of Givat Hamatos, from other Palestinian districts to the east and from the city of Bethlehem in the south.
“The EU reiterates its position that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law and the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including in Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides. The EU renews its call on the Israeli government to halt settlement construction and to reverse these latest decisions as a matter of urgency,” Stano said.
He also denounced as “alarming” the increase in evictions and demolitions across the occupied Palestinian territory, notably the evolving situation in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, in East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the possible demolition of structures in the Palestinian village of al-Walajeh.
“Such unilateral actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only fuel tensions on the ground. The Israeli authorities should cease these activities and provide adequate permits for legal construction and development of Palestinian communities,” he added.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Additionally on Wednesday, a US State Department spokesperson expressed concerns after the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) voted in favor of controversial legislation to legalize 70 wildcat outposts in the West Bank.
“We are deeply concerned about the potential ‘legalization’ of outposts that have long been deemed illegal under Israeli law,” the spokesperson said in response to a query from The Times of Israel.
“As we have long said, it is critical that Israel refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace. This includes evictions, settlement activity and home demolitions, and certainly includes the legalization of Israeli outposts in the West Bank that have long been illegal even under Israeli law.”