European states denounce ‘illegal’ Israeli building plans in Jerusalem area
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European states denounce ‘illegal’ Israeli building plans in Jerusalem area

15 countries and EU again submit protest letter to Foreign Ministry against advancement of new homes in Givat Hamatos, E1 area

A picture taken on July 4, 2016, shows a mobile cabin in the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, in East Jerusalem. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
A picture taken on July 4, 2016, shows a mobile cabin in the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, in East Jerusalem. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

The European Union and 15 European countries on Thursday renewed their opposition to Israeli plans to advance construction plans in areas of Jerusalem beyond the Green Line.

The countries and the EU expressed their “grave concerns regarding the advancement of settlement construction in Givat Hamatos and potentially in the E1 area” in a so-called démarche filed with the Foreign Ministry.

It was their second protest letter on the matter since May.

“Settlements are illegal under International Humanitarian Law. Any further settlement construction in this strategically sensitive area will have a devastating impact on a contiguous Palestinian State, as well as severely undermining the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters,” the démarche stated.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed having received a second letter, but declined to further comment on the matter.

The 15 countries that signed the démarche were France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.

Many proponents of a two-state solution say Israeli development in E1, an area between East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, and Givat Hamatos, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, would severely undermine the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged days before general elections in March to advance plans to build thousands of homes in both areas, which have long been frozen amid international opposition.

He also vowed to start annexing parts of the West Bank slated for Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, a promise that was similarly denounced by the EU and many European states.

While his coalition agreement with the Blue and White party allowed him to begin moving forward with annexation on July 1, the move has been delayed due to apparent concerns in the White House and the US administration’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as internal opposition within Netanyahu’s unity government.

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