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Abbas: E-1 settlement plan crosses 'red line'

Dec. 5, 2012 6:03 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2012 3:28 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian territory, especially the newly announced projects in the E-1 area, is a red line which cannot go unanswered because it divides the Palestinian land, President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at his office in Ramallah, Abbas said the PA contacted international sides to try and stop the settlement project Israel announced in response to Palestine's upgraded status at the UN.

“If that project is implemented, we will use all legal and legitimate means to stop it, and we have something to say and do about these dangerous decisions,” Abbas said.

He added that Israeli procedures should be reversed because international law prohibits an occupying state from carrying out any procedures on the lands of a state under occupation. Now that Palestine is a non-member state in the UN General Assembly, he added, the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable.

The president said he instructed Palestine's UN envoy to contact the UN Secretary-General and the president of the UN Security Council.

"We will see their reaction to the Israeli settlement decision, then we will study the next step."

The official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa quoted Abbas as saying that the Palestinian leadership has already formed a special committee to study "the day after."

The committee encompasses experts in international law and diplomacy, and they will start working on how to address international organizations now Palestine has been accepted in the UN. Abbas said the committee would hold its first meeting Wednesday.

He pointed out that the Arab League's follow-up committee would convene on Dec. 29 to discuss the peace process after Palestine's status upgrade.

EU summons Israeli ambassador

In Brussels, the European Union summoned Israel's ambassador to discuss the bloc's concerns over plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, an EU foreign affairs spokeswoman said.

"The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns," Maja Kocijancic said.

The Executive Secretary General -- the senior diplomat in charge of policy for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton -- is Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington.

Several EU countries have already called in Israeli ambassadors for consultations, but EU states have been struggling to agree on a common response to the settlement expansion plans.

The spokeswoman said the EU reaction to Israel's new building plans would depend on the extent to which they threatened the establishment of a viable state of Palestine in the future.

Israel moved forward Wednesday with plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international protests.

The European Union has repeatedly spoken out against Israeli settlements on land the Palestinians want for their state. Ashton said on Sunday that she was "extremely concerned" by the plans.
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