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Ashrawi denounces Israel moving forward with settlement expansion after US election

Nov. 21, 2016 10:35 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 22, 2016 11:51 A.M.)
Buildings in Ramat Shlomo, an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi denounced on Monday a recent meeting by Israeli authorities regarding the expansion of the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in occupied East Jerusalem, calling it an attempt to “destroy the rights and the very existence of the Palestinian state.”

According to Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, the Israeli Jerusalem municipality’s planning and building committee held a meeting on Sunday to discuss plans related to the construction of 1,400 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo.

However, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an on Monday that "the plans in question are not new; the 500 units in Ramat Shlomo were approved in the past by the local committee and the district committee of the Ministry of Finance. As a routine part of this process, the District Committee recently approved technical adjustments regarding an access road."

That Israel was pushing forward its plans in Ramat Shlomo was renewed proof that it was “more committed to land theft and expansionism than to the imperatives of peace and to abiding by international law and the will of the international community,” Ashrawi said.

“Its attempts seek to destroy the rights and the very existence of the Palestinian state,” she added.

Ashrawi went on to claim that Israel was taking advantage of the recent US presidential elections, with the victory of staunch Israel supporter Donald Trump, to push forward the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“Clearly, Israel is exploiting the outcome of the American elections as an opportunity to step up its unilateral actions to complete the isolation of Jerusalem and to escalate its land grab, while fragmenting the West Bank to prevent any territorial and demographic contiguity,” she said.

“It is time that the US, the European Union and all states that claim commitment to the two-state solution adopt concrete steps and measures to prevent the completion of these dangerous plans and to impose sanctions on Israel before it draws the whole region into further violence, extremism and instability,” she added.

The development of 1,600 settler housing units in Ramat Shlomo, located near the Palestinian neighborhood of Shufat, was first announced in 2010 during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden to Israel.

Biden condemned the announcement at the time, leading to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries over potential peace talks to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land is considered illegal under international law, as the international community has agreed that any peace negotiations would necessitate that the Israeli government freeze new settlement construction.

Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, have publicly announced their support for plans aimed to annex the entirety of Area C in the occupied West Bank.
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