“Israel’s latest decision for settlement expansion in Jerusalem is not only a slap in [US] Secretary [of State John] Kerry’s face, but it’s a blow to the entire Palestinian and international communities in their quest for peace,” the chief Palestinian negotiator said.
Saeb Erekat told Al-Ayyam newspaper that he objected to Israel’s decision to approve 500 new housing units in East Jerusalem during his meeting with Kerry yesterday evening.
“While I was meeting with Secretary Kerry to discuss how to create a suitable environment for a two-state solution, Israel approved yet another decision to build 500 illegal new settlement units in East Jerusalem, the occupied capital of Palestine,” Erekat said.
He pointed out that it was quite clear that Netanyahu’s government chose settlement expansion over negotiations and apartheid over a two-state solution and co-existence.
Erekat emphasised that data collection alone will not stop Israeli settlement expansion, protect the Palestinian people or achieve a two-state solution. He also emphasised that it is the international community’s responsibility to hold Israel accountable for its violations of several international charters and its human rights violations against the people of East Jerusalem by building settlements, forcing family displacements and depriving them of their right to worship.
“The international community must support the Palestinian right to sign international treaties such as the Treaty of Rome. For this reason, we call on the international community to help us save the two-state solution by recognising the State of Palestine according to 1967 borders,” Erekat said.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation official said the international community and the United States should encourage the Palestinian initiative to seek a Security Council-imposed deadline to end the Israeli occupation. He said he considered international support for his proposal to be the only way to save the two-state solution from disappearing forever.
The meeting between Erekat and Kerry lasted three hours on Monday evening and although it did not lead to any significant breakthroughs regarding the Palestinian sector and its quest to gain international legitimacy at the UN, the two politicians discussed ways to avoid taking unilateral steps and developed an outline to return to negotiations and possible ways to halt settlement expansion in occupied Jerusalem.
However, Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the US Department of State said yesterday, “The United States has no current plans to bring the two sides to the negotiating table or revive the peace process.”
The Palestinian leadership recently decided to go to the Security Council in order to set a deadline to end the Israeli occupation after American led peace talks failed earlier this year.