A member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr Hanan Ashrawi, has warned that since Israel is sending a clear message to the US and the rest of the world that settlements are its response to the peace efforts, the US and the international community have to seriously confront this message, both politically and legally, before it is too late.
Ashrawi was commenting on the decision of Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, who ratified the construction of 3,000 new housing units in the heart of the West Bank and outside the “major settlement” blocs. The new construction will include: 984 housing units in the settlement of Givat Ze’ev, 386 units in the settlement of Beit Eil, 550 units in the settlement of Talmon, 277 units in the settlement of Eli Zahav, 290 units in the settlement of Kedumim, 130 units in the settlement of Assael, 60 units in the settlement of Alon Shvut, and 74 units in the settlement of Etz Efraim, according to data gathered by Israeli movement Peace Now.
Ashrawi confirmed that Israel is intensifying its settlement campaign to serve dual purposes that aim at stealing Palestinian land on the one hand, and deliberately pushing the Palestinian leadership to withdraw from the negotiations on the other, thus holding the Palestinian side fully responsible for the failure of the negotiation process, which is facing a serious dilemma as a result of this settlement escalation that replaces the two-state solution with the “Greater Israel” project.
She added, “the US, which claims the illegality of the settlements, has to move beyond its words and stop giving Israel more time to destroy the chances of peace while escaping punishment by taking initiatives to cover its violations, and instead must force Israel to abide by international law and stop these unilateral activities,” explaining that “the day that will witness Israel going on trial before the International Criminal Court is coming very soon.”