Egypt Joins Critics of Israel Decision to Build New Settler Units

Egypt Joins Critics of Israel Decision to Build New Settler Units
Fri Jul 8, 2016 12:38:14

Egypt, one of the two Arab countries that have public diplomatic relations with Israel, has censured Tel Aviv’s recent decision to construct several hundred new illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian lands.

In a statement on Thursday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called the Israeli decision an “escalation” and said it would undermine efforts aimed at resolving the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

"“The Israeli escalation is unjustified and incomprehensible, particularly because it coincides with regional and international efforts aimed at encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to build an environment of trust in order to resume negotiations,” the statement read."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Military Affairs Avigdor Liberman — both known for their hawkish views — approved some 800 new settler units in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the West Bank.

The decision has been condemned by much of the international community, including the United States, which is considered Israel’s main ally.

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the plan would “be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Also on Tuesday, the 28-member European Union (EU) condemned the Israeli decision, calling the construction of the new units “illegal under international law.”

A picture taken in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on July 6, 2016 shows Palestinians walking in front of buildings in the Kiryat Arba settlement. (By AFP)

The United Nations, too, said the decision sheds light on Israel’s long-term plans, implying that the regime is not willing to participate in any efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank,” the UN chief said through a spokesman, referring to the decision to build the new settler units."

Earlier, the so-called Quartet on the Middle East, which comprises the United States, the EU, the UN and Russia, said Israel should cease the settlement construction and expansion.

The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories they are built on were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds, Press TV reported.

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