Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Israel firm on settlement plans

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Jerusalem: Israel stood firm in the face of mounting international pressure as it pushed ahead with a swathe of settlement plans seen as threatening the viability of a future Palestinian state.

The Palestinian leadership meeting in the West Bank announced that it would ask the UN Security Council to condemn the Israeli settlement programme.

In Jerusalem, a senior European Union official said the bloc had received no indication Israel was planning to heed calls to give up on plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in a critical area of the West Bank near Jerusalem.

But Britain said the EU was unlikely to punish Israel by imposing trade sanctions, although top diplomats in the 27-nation bloc were expected to discuss further steps at a top-level meeting on Monday. Egypt and Australia on Tuesday joined a growing list of countries who have taken the rare step of summoning the Israeli ambassador to express a formal protest over plans to build new settler homes in E1, a corridor of land near Jerusalem where construction would cleave a future Palestinian state in half.

The EU ambassador to Israel, Andrew Standley, said despite growing international calls, Israel had shown no sign it was planning to call off its construction plans. But he refused to say whether the bloc would take further measures saying it foreign ministers will discuss the matter on Monday at a meeting in Brussels.

Israel’s settlement plans have always raised hackles but Friday’s proposals – seen as payback for the Palestinians securing the UN rank of a non-member state – are particularly contentious as they would make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible. E1 is a corridor of West Bank land which runs between the easternmost edge of annexed east Jerusalem and the nearby Maaleh Adumim settlement. (AFP)

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