Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat called upon the international community to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of international law. His call was made after Israel announced the construction of 69 new units at the illegal settlement of Jabal Abu Ghnem (Har Homa) in the Bethlehem district, a few days before Secretary Kerry’s visit to the region.
“Israel has a selected repertoire awaiting US officials, like what happened to Mr. Biden, which includes settlements, settlements and more settlements. It has played the same symphony since the signature of the Oslo Agreement in 1993 by almost tripling the number of settlers in 20 years, taking Palestinian land, lives and livelihoods in the process” said Dr. Erekat.
“Over the same 20 year period of accelerated settlement activity, forced displacement, ID revocations and home demolitions, Israel has signed several Free Trade Agreements, including an Association Agreement with the EU. In other words, Israel has been rewarded for its crimes, leaving Tel Aviv with no incentive to move for peace.”
Dr. Erekat continued “settlement construction in Jabal Abu Ghnem (Har Homa settlement) is aimed at completely sealing Occupied East Jerusalem from Bethlehem, with its countless political, cultural and economic consequences. Settlement activity in and around Occupied East Jerusalem is one of the main reasons why the two-state solution is disappearing, as without East Jerusalem there will be no Palestinian State.”
Dr. Erekat concluded: “The international community should understand that in order to create the right environment for negotiations it should not grant impunity to Israel over its repeated crimes and violations. On the contrary, accountability is the best incentive to realign negotiations with international law. This is the only path towards a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.”