The United States is warning that should the Israel expand settlements in Judea and Samaria, the prospect of peace with the Palestinians will be put in peril. The truth is that should the Jewish County not expand settlements in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians will still not recognize Israel; there will be no peace. So there is actually nothing that can be “placed in peril” in the first place.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined a wave of global condemnation of Israel’s decision to build 1,100 new homes in the town of Gilo which is situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and is home to some 500,000 Israelis. She said the move could be seen as “provocative” and “counter-productive”.
The European Union’s head of foreign policy, Lady Ashton, says that the settlement expansion “threatens the viability of the agreed two state solution” and calls for the decision to be reversed. However, a two-state solution has not necessarily been agreed to.
The negotiator for the Palestinian Saeb Erekat told the press that the move was “a slap in the face”.
The Middle East Quartet which is made up of the European Union, the United States, Russia, and the United Nations is now attempting to bring both the Palestinians and Israel to the negotiating table within the next month.
The Palestinians called for a freeze on settlement construction as a condition for joining renewed peace-talks. However the building in Gilo should not come as a surprise as Bibi, after his UN speech stressed to the press there would be no renewed settlement freeze. The expansion of Gilo has been planned for more than two years and will still be subject to a round of public consultation before it is finally approved. The Quartet is anxious to restart peace negotiations before the United Nations Security Council votes on the Palestinian bid for statehood.