Palestinians: settlement expansion means 1 state
BY KARIN LAUB Associated Press
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
12/05/12 at 6:15 AM
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Israel's latest settlement plans will destroy any lingering hopes of setting up a Palestinian state next to Israel, a senior Palestinian official warned Tuesday, as international anger over the construction snowballed.
Israel announced the plans in response to last week's U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel occupied in 1967, as a non-member observer at the General Assembly.
The plans include 3,000 more homes for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem, known as E-1.
Separately, Israel is moving forward with two major settlement projects in east Jerusalem. Israel would build more than 4,200 apartments in the two areas, Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos.
The Ramat Shlomo project touched off a diplomatic crisis with the U.S. in 2010 when the ministry gave it preliminary approval during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
Israeli settlement construction lies at the heart of a four-year breakdown in peace talks, and was a major factor behind the Palestinians' U.N. statehood bid. Since 1967, half a million Israelis have settled in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The Palestinians say E-1 and Givat Hamatos are particularly problematic because they would cut off east Jerusalem, the intended Palestinian capital, from the rest of the West Bank.
Israel's plans for E-1 and Givat Hamatos "will leave us with no peace process," Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Associated Press.
He later told Israel TV that "it's over" if these two settlements are built.
"Don't talk about peace, don't talk about a two-state solution ... talk about a one-state reality between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean," Erekat said, referring to the land that the international community hopes will one day accommodate both Israel and a Palestinian state.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague sounded a similar warning Tuesday, telling Britain's parliament that Israel's building plans would make a Palestinian state alongside Israel "almost inconceivable."
Eight countries, Britain among them, summoned local Israeli ambassadors in protest since Monday, and Hague said there could be further diplomatic steps if building continues.
Some Palestinian officials have raised the possibility of asking the European Union to reconsider its trade agreements with Israel, but Hague said he did not think Europe is ready for economic sanctions against Israel.
Israel has rebuffed the international criticism, which put it at odds with some of its strongest foreign allies, including Australia.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that construction plans would move forward, particularly in east Jerusalem and nearby West Bank settlements. "Israel makes decisions according to its national interests, and not in order to punish, fight or confront," he said.
Original Print Headline: Building plans rile PLO's leaders