The British Foreign Secretary has criticised Israel’s decision to construct thousands of new settler housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, warning that it puts a viable two-state solution at risk.
“The UK has repeatedly urged Israel to end illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank,” tweeted Dominic Raab yesterday. “The decision to proceed with new settlements in Givat HaMatos [a Jerusalem neighbourhood] separates Palestinians in East Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and threatens the viability of a two state solution.”
His statement comes after the Israeli government earlier this week approved the construction of 2,572 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian Territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Despite repeated warnings from Israel’s allies against the building of settlements in the West Bank – all of which are illegal under international law – the Netanyahu government has continued to push ahead with construction. While paying lip service to the so-called “peace process”, Israel wants to colonise as much Palestinian land as possible.
Raab’s criticism comes a month after Britain listed Israel and the city of Jerusalem as a single entity in its update of travel corridors following pressure from the pro-Israel lobby. This was done despite the UK’s official stance against the expansion of illegal Jews-only settlements and in favour of the two-state solution.
The official combining of Israel and the holy city breaks the long-standing protocol of recognising Jerusalem as an international city which is occupied by Israel and has been annexed — illegally — by the occupation state. Moreover, East Jerusalem is earmarked for the capital of an independent state of Palestine.
Italy has also criticised Israel’s decision to approve the new settlement units. France and Saudi Arabia condemned the green light for thousands of units earlier this month.