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European states urge Israel to stop settlement activities in East al-Quds

A general view shows ongoing illegal construction work at Ramat Shlomo, an Israeli settlement in occupied East al-Quds, on January 5, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Four European countries have called on Israel to stop the construction of illegal settler units in East al-Quds as the regime steps up its land grab and forced eviction policies in the occupied Palestinian lands in defiance of international law.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain expressed deep concerns about the recent Israeli decision to advance plans for building hundreds of new settler units in East al-Quds, including between Givat HaMatos and Har Homa areas. 

“The new housing units would further disconnect the West Bank from East Jerusalem (al-Quds) and constitute an additional obstacle to the Two-State Solution. We urge the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision,” they said.

“This decision directly threatens the viability of a future Palestinian state. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

They further raised alarm at Israeli evictions and demolitions in the East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli forces violently raided the Salhiye family house in Sheikh Jarrah before a digger tore down the property. Using stun grenades, the occupation troops forcefully displaced the Palestinian family and activists and arrested at least 18 people.

“We are also deeply concerned by the recent developments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” the four European states said, urging Israel “to permanently halt eviction and demolition procedures of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), as well as in Area C, which contribute to fueling tensions on the ground.”

Additionally on Wednesday, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland called on Israel to stop the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes.

"I call on Israeli authorities to end the displacement and eviction of Palestinians," he told the UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Wennesland also presented the situation of the four illegal construction plans the Israeli regime is pushing and reiterated that “all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace. I call on the Government of Israel to cease the advancement of all settlement activity immediately.”

“Settlement activity, demolitions, and evictions also continue, feeding hopelessness and further diminishing prospects for a negotiated solution,” he added.

Speaking during Wednesday’s briefing, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki complained about bias that is shielding the Israeli regime from any form of accountability and preventing the Security Council from acting under Chapter VII of UN Charter.

“It is the bias that has allowed Israel, instead of apologizing for its crimes and putting an end to them, to accuse even its closest partners of anti-semitism for voting resolutions rooted in international law and human rights; the bias that has allowed it to attack the ICC, the ICJ, the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council for performing their mandates and to insult and harass world leaders, Nobel peace laureates, moral figures, celebrities, citizens, for their stance regarding the question of Palestine; … It is the bias that grants an occupying Power a very widely interpreted right to security while the people under occupation are deprived of the most basic forms of protection,” he said.

“Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights and defiance of the international community has continued for so long because it can rely on the fact there will be criticism and condemnations but there won’t be consequences.  You want to help us end this conflict, end Israeli impunity.”

The Tel Aviv regime regularly flattens Palestinian homes and structures under the pretext that they lack building permits.

However, Palestinians and rights groups say the moves are aimed at seizing more Palestinian lands to expand Israeli settlements.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law and an obstacle to the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nearly 700,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian lands.

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