Israel is continuing to be attacked for its decision to assert its rights in Jerusalem. PM Netanyahu has already rebuffed the accusations.
The European Union (EU) strongly condemned Israel Thursday for its announced plans to build a new neighborhood in Jerusalem and said that this move threatens the peace process.
“This represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the EU’s External Action Service said in a statement.
The EU further made a veiled threat towards Israel, saying: “We stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on the latter’s engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”
The EU called on Israel to reverse its decision, as “the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond issued a separate statement in which he said that “if this development is built it will damage the prospect of a two-state solution, and it will make it more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not serious about peace.”
Wave of Criticism
By doing so, the EU and the UK joined the US, which last week stated its own criticism of Israel’s plans to build 2,600 units in Jerusalem that had been slated for construction since 2012 in the neighborhood of Givat Hamatos; the project was given final approval last week.
Ethiopian and Russian immigrants have been living in Givat Hamatos since 1991, which is situated on a main route used by thousands of Israeli motorists daily in Jerusalem.
The EU also accused Israel of allowing what it called “further settlement expansion” in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, known in Hebrew as Ir David (City of David), where a group of Israelis entered newly purchased homes.
The EU has so far issued no condemnation of the Palestinian Authority for its unilateral moves to join various United Nations committees and receive a status of a recognized state.
Israel’s Fundamental Right
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the right of Israelis to live and build in Jerusalem, their capital city. “I don’t understand this criticism, and I don’t accept this position. Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden. I will also not say that Jews cannot buy property in Jerusalem. There cannot be discrimination between Jews and Arabs. This is a normal process, and I see no reason to discriminate,” he said, while briefing reporters in New York.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also rejected the criticism and announced that the plans to build homes in Jerusalem would carry on.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel