The Secretary General of the Muslim-Christian Commission for the Support of Jerusalem, Dr. Hanna Eissa, has described Israel's approval of 58 new housing units in the settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev in East Jerusalem as "an obstacle to peace". Dr Eissa said that this destroys mutual trust and challenges the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Eissa stressed on Thursday that settlements are illegal according to international law; they violate Israel's commitments to the roadmap; they ruin any viable move toward the peace process; and they undermine the efforts that are currently being exerted to restore negotiations to the straight path. He noted that the Israeli vision of the future of settlement expansion defies all international laws and conventions, as the state confiscates land, builds settlements and houses Israelis in those settlements. "This creates a demographic presence that directly and indirectly affects the existing and future Palestinian presence," he insisted. The Israelis plan to empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian residents and create a fait accompli so that the occupied city will be excluded from the talks' agenda.
"Through settlement expansion," Eissa added, "Israel seeks to change the nature and shape of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Occupied Jerusalem, which at the end of the day blocks the peace process and the implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338."
Note: The image of Dr Eissa was updated on 2nd Jan 2014 at 12.40pm GMT.