Entries in Israeli Settlements (5)


Israelis Ignore Critics of West Bank Settlement Plans

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel is not backing down from plans to build 3,000 homes in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem despite mounting international pressure that included another criticism Monday from the Obama administration.

While the White House urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to reconsider these actions," a State Department spokesman called the Israeli plan "especially damaging" to peace efforts.

However, even a move by five European nations to lodge formal complaints with Israeli ambassadors seemed to have no effect.

An official with Netanyahu's office said on Monday, "Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision that was made."

Washington and its allies who either voted against or abstained from the United Nations' resolution last week elevating the Palestinians to a non-member observer state feel that Israel's intransigence on the issue will ultimately hurt the goal of a two-state solution to the ongoing crisis between the Israelis and Palestinians.

At the U.N., Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that building in the area east of Jerusalem "would represent an almost fatal blow to the remaining chances of securing a two-state solution."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israel Defends Plans to Build New Settlement Units in West Bank

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- The Israeli government is defending its move to build 3,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. 

The government made the announcement Friday after the United Nations voted to recognize the Palestinian territories, which includes the West Bank and Gaza, as a “non-member observer state.”

After the settlement initiative was announced, Israeli Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau defended his country's decision, declaring, “We don't tell the British or the French where to build in Paris or London and we do not expect anybody to tell us what to do in Jerusalem.”

A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling Israel’s action an “almost fatal blow” to the chances of securing peace and a two-state solution.

The U.N. chief’s office says the building of new Israeli settlements “risks completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank." 

The secretary-general warns Israel that the building of settlements in the area is illegal under international law.

Ban Ki-moon says that in the interests of peace, the settlement plans must be rescinded.  He also called on all parties to resume negotiations towards “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace...”

Meanwhile, the British and French governments have strongly objected to Israel's plans, summoning Israeli ambassadors and calling it a "considerable obstacle to the two-state solution."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House 'Disappointed' with Construction of New Israeli Settlements

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Palestinians' bid to get United Nations membership is having no effect on Israel's plans to continue building settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Both developments are angering the Obama administration, which had at least hoped that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would back off on settlement construction until the matter with the Palestinians is resolved.

Netanyahu went ahead this week and announced that he would accelerate the projects that many believe was in response to the U.N.'s cultural organization voting to accept the Palestinians into the group, a move that could make it easier to win a seat in the General Assembly.

Just as the State Department denounced the Palestinians' admittance to UNESCO, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the administration is "deeply disappointed" with Netanyahu.

The U.S. opposes both the construction of Israelis' settlements as well as the Palestinians’ solo attempt to achieve statehood.  According to Carney, both sides are undermining the peace process by acting unilaterally instead of holding discussions to advance their individual goals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


WH Condemns New Israeli Settlements Announced on Eve of Israeli President’s Visit

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- "The United States is deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions with respect to settlement construction," said White House National Security Staff spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Not exactly a "Welcome Shimon Peres" card.

But then again -- for not the first time of the Obama presidency -- a U.S.-Israel meeting featured the overture of an announcement of new Israeli settlement permits, despite continued U.S. opposition to new Israeli settlement activity on disputed territories.

Israeli President Shimon Peres is due to have a working lunch at the White House Tuesday, but as Mr. Vietor notes, the Obama administration is "concerned" about the recent announcement by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee of approval of 942 housing units on the Southern Slopes of Gilo, in addition to the Israeli government's approval over the weekend of hundreds of apartments in West Bank settlements Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, and Kiryat Sefer, as reported by Ha'aretz.

"Not only are continued Israeli settlements illegitimate, Israel’s actions run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations," Vietor said.

Elie Isaacson, an adviser to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, told The New York Times that the timing was coincidence.

“There are no secrets whatsoever,” Isaacson said. “The plan is merely going from one bureaucratic stage to the next bureaucratic stage. The building policy in Jerusalem has been the same for 40 years.”

In February, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning as "illegal" the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied territory, but the matter was debated within the administration.

In March 2010, Vice President Biden was greeted in Israel with the news of the Israeli Interior Ministry approving 1,600 new housing units for Jews in Ramat Shlomo, in East Jerusalem. White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod called it an “affront” and an “insult."

“What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process,” Axelrod said, adding that the move “seemed calculated to undermine” the so-called proximity talks going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  In an interview with ABC News that same month, Vice President Biden denied that he had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that settlement activity put the lives of troops at risk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Hillary Clinton: Israeli Settlements 'Illegitimate'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli settlements "illegitimate" shortly before the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal.

In an exclusive ABC News interview with Christiane Amanpour on Friday, Clinton said, "I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians."

The U.N. resolution failed as a result of the United States' veto. The Security Council vote was 14 countries in favor of the resolution and one country, the United States, opposed. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution risked harming the peace process.

"It is the Israelis' and Palestinians' conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them," Rice said after the vote at U.N. headquarters in New York City. "Therefore, every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: Will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement?

"Unfortunately," she added, "this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse."

In December 2010, Clinton took a similarly harsh line against continued Israeli settlements.

"We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio