Saturday, September 26, 2020

Tensions Rise After Successful Palestinian UN Bid

By Dylan Collins - December 04, 2012
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [Ma’ale Adumim] [settlement construction] [Settlers] [UN bid]


International outrage has mounted since Israel’s announcement last Friday that it plans to build 3,000 additional homes for its settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the controversial plan just one day after the United Nation’s decision to symbolically recognize a Palestinian state—based on lands Israel occupied in 1967—as a non-member observer state in the General Assembly.

Israel’s unilateral move also includes preparations for large-scale construction works in the contentious E-1 area of Jerusalem, linking the city to Israel’s third largest settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Israel’s actions, seen to be in direct retaliation to Palestine’s UN Bid, have caused increasing international criticism over the weekend and throughout the beginning of this week.

Today, Australia joined five European countries in summoning Israeli ambassadors for consultations in protest of Israel’s punitive settlement expansion announcement.

Similarly, the US has also ramped up its condemnation of Israel’s actions after discovering that the E-1 move was meant to “retaliate” against U.S. President Barack Obama, for his refusal to endorse the 2004 Sharon-Bush letter, according to Haaretz.

The April 14, 2004 letter between then U.S. President Bush Jr. and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came just before Israel’s 'disengagement’ from Gaza and contained a clause which Israel interprets to be U.S. support for Israel’s retention of its “settlement blocs” in the West Bank.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Krutzer told Haaretz on Monday that Israel’s actions suggest to Washington that Israel “was waiting for an opportunity to do this, that it was designed to provoke anger in the Administration, and that they picked what they thought was a convenient moment. It was a low blow.”

The International Criminal Court Option

UN recognition of the Palestinian state could enable the fledgling nation to gain access to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to seek war crimes charges against Israel for its construction of Jewish only settlements on occupied land amongst other various violations.

The Associated Press (AP) reports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as having mentioned that he would not turn to the ICC unless the Palestinians were attacked; however, antagonistic Israeli actions subsequent to both the UN Bid and Abbas’ promise may push the Palestinian Authority into going to The Hague after all.

Israel’s E-1 project has been frozen for the past four years via a mutual agreement between Netanyahu and US President Barak Obama.

However, if Israel decides to disregard the agreement due to irritation with the US, many believe the long hailed and now steadily vanishing two-state solution will finally turn belly up.  The plan would include more than 3,500 homes in an area that would effectively sever the West Bank in two, cutting off access to Jerusalem from the West Bank and preventing the territorial contiguity essential to any future Palestinian state.

I do not intend this month to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. In the coming period I intend to use the money to deduct debts the Palestinian Authority owes to the Israel Electric Corporation and other bodies

Additionally, Israel is reportedly going ahead with two other major construction plans in the heart of East Jerusalem, the supposed capital city of the future Palestinian state. Within the next two weeks, the Israeli Interior Ministry is scheduled to deliberate on the two projects—called Ramot Shlomo and Givat Hamatos—AP reports the Ministry’s spokeswoman, Efrat Orbach, to have said.

Plans for Ramot Shlomo, a 1,700-apartment development, have been on hold since its surprise 2010 announcement during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden caused fractures in Israel-US relations.

Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney specializing in Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem, argues that Israel’s E-1 plan is the key to a larger more comprehensive strategy to surround Jerusalem with settlements and separate it from the West Bank, reports Haaretz.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities revealed yet another punitive step in the form of withholding this month’s transfer of $100 million in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

“I do not intend this month to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. In the coming period I intend to use the money to deduct debts the Palestinian Authority owes to the Israel Electric Corporation and other bodies,”Reuters reported Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to have said Sunday on Israel Radio.

Nabil Shaath, a senior Abbas aide, told the AP late Monday night that “by continuing these war crimes of settlement activities on our lands and stealing our money, Israel is pushing and forcing us to go the ICC.”

Shaath’s comment marks the most forceful threat yet by Palestinians of turning to the ICC; however, most believe that route, if chosen at all, will only come as a complete last resort.

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