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PLO office blasts 'stupefying inaction' on settlements

June 8, 2012 12:15 A.M. (Updated: June 9, 2012 12:16 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The General Delegation of the PLO in Washington said Thursday it was dismayed by the Israeli government’s latest "egregious violation" of signed agreements.

"Settlements are illegal under international law, their expansion contradicts agreements signed by Israel and the PLO, and their continuation gravely prejudices the final status issues," the PLO office said in a statement.

Israel has dismissed criticism of the plan to erect 851 more settler homes, projects that appeared aimed at placating settlers angry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"They need to condemn. We need to build," Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias told Army Radio.

Facing down settlers and their supporters, Netanyahu defeated an attempt by ultranationalist lawmakers to "legalize" all settler homes on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The bill was proposed after the Supreme Court ordered the removal by July 1 of five apartment buildings erected on Palestinian tracts in the settlement of Beit El.

"The message is clear: this Israeli government’s priority is to appease the settlers, not to resolve the conflict," the PLO mission said in an emailed statement.

It condemned "in the strongest of terms" the latest decision by the Israeli government, and urged the Obama administration and international community to insist on a settlement freeze.

"It should have been clear by now that this stupefying inaction by the international community is precisely what emboldens Israel," the diplomatic mission said.

PLO officials are "greatly disappointed by the astonishing inaction by the global community that amounts to an international cover-up for Israel, especially by the US administration," it said.

The reply came after a State Dept. spokesman told reporters Wednesday that "We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a standard US response.

The spokesman, Mark Toner, said the Americans "continuously raise" the issue of settlements with Israel.

Asked how effective that had been in the past few years, as Israel refused to implement a full settlement freeze, the spokesman responded that "I'm not able to give it a grade."

The PLO mission said America's position had accomplished little, as the Israeli government "will not be deterred" by more statements decrying settlement construction as unhelpful to peace efforts.

"Furthermore, if the US continues to treat its support to Israel as unconditional, Israel will never have the incentive to halt its destructive and reckless settlement construction," the PLO office warned.

Israel is pushing the region into "dangerously unpredictable consequences," it said.
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