The European Union has lambasted the Israeli regime for its plan to build thousands of settler units in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, warning that such construction will sever territorial contiguity between the area and the rest of the occupied West Bank.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made the remarks in a statement on Friday, three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had ordered the promotion of a plan for constructing some 3,500 settler units in the so-called E1 area, which is located between the al-Quds and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
“Settlement construction in these areas will cut the geographic and territorial contiguity between East-Jerusalem and the West Bank. Construction in E1 will sever the connection between Northern and Southern West Bank,” Borrell said.
The contentious project, according to the Israeli premier, had since 2012 been frozen due to objections from governments around the world supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The EU reiterates its call on Israel to halt settlement construction, to suspend the publication of tenders and to refrain from any measures aimed at the advancement of such construction plans. Settlements are illegal under international law,” Borrell added.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinians state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. However, the continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.
The project that Netanyahu promotes will substantially curb the possibility for development in the center of such future Palestinian state.
The move is widely believed to be an apparent attempt aimed at securing votes for the scandal-hit premier ahead of upcoming elections.
“We call on both parties to engage in a dialogue and to refrain from any unilateral action that undermines the viability of the two-state solution,” Borrell further said.
The occupying regime seized East Jerusalem al-Quds in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the territory in a move never recognized by the international community. Around 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in over 230 settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
US President Donald Trump infuriated Palestinians last month, when he unveiled his much-delayed and self-proclaimed “deal of the century” during an event at the White House alongside Netanyahu.
Palestinian groups have unanimously rejected Trump’s one-sided plan, which largely meets Israel’s demands in the decades-old conflict with the Palestinians while envisioning a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders.
The so-called “peace” plan enshrines Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The plan also denies the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, among other controversial terms.
Trump’s plan has triggered waves of protest rallies both across the Palestinian occupied territories and around the globe.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already severed ties between the Palestinian Authority, which he leads, and the Israeli regime as well as the US in reaction to Trump’s highly-provocative scheme.