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Israel's settlement plan condemned, called 'diplomatic mistake'

From 'a diplomatic mistake' to 'a proper Zionist response', politicians and political bodies respond to Israel's plan to build 3,300 settlements
Palestinians and Israeli activists hold a banner reading "No peace with settlements" January 2014 (AFP)
Par MEE staff

Following the news Thursday that Israel will construct 3,300 new homes in settlements, politicians and political bodies have reacted:

Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel

"I congratulate the decision to give a proper Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror cabinet," Haaretz quoted Ariel as saying.

"The right and duty of the state of Israel to build across the country to lower the housing prices is unquestionable, and I believe these tenders are just the beginning," said the minister, who is a member of the far-right Jewish Home party which opposes a Palestinian state.

Israeli Justice Minister and chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni 

Livni told Army Radio the country had made a "diplomatic mistake that will only make it more difficult for us to mobilise world opinion against Hamas."

She blamed the Bayit Yehudi party - of which the housing minister is a member - for pressuring the government to issue the day's first batch of tenders.

"This isn't a punishment against Hamas," Livni said. "Its a punishment that the Bayit Yehudi has imposed upon the citizens of Israel."

Palestinian legislator and member of the PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi ?

Ashrawi said the Palestinians will seek UN intervention to bring Israel to account for its settlement expansion drive.

"The executive committee of the PLO views this latest escalation with the utmost of seriousness and will counter it by addressing both the UN Security Council and the General Assembly as the proper way of curbing this grave violation and ensuring accountability," Ashrawi said.

PLO Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat

Erekat warned that Israel is preparing to annex areas of the West Bank and called on the international community to take action to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law.

“We call upon the international community to assume its responsibilities, including banning all Israeli settlement products, divest from all companies involved directly or indirectly in the Israeli occupation, and take all possible measures in order to hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for its daily violations of Palestinian rights and international law,” he said.

The European Union

The EU issued a statement saying it is "deeply disappointed" by Israeli plans to build more settler homes and called for the decision to be reversed.

The statement said, "We call on the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision and to direct all their efforts towards an early resumption of the peace talks."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

According to spokesman Stephane Dujarric Ban is "deeply concerned" by reports that Israel has issued the tenders for construction "As the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions, the building of settlements on occupied territory is illegal under international law," he said in a statement. He repeated the UN's previous call for both sides "to avoid taking unilateral actions on the ground that would further diminish the chances of reaching a negotiated final peace agreement."

"The secretary general calls on Israel to heed the calls of the international community to freeze settlement activity and abide by its commitments under international law and the roadmap," he said.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

Hague issued a statement saying he "deplores" the settlement expansion and "emphasises need for lasting peace". "Such decisions can only make achieving peace more difficult," Hague said.

“The UK’s position on settlements is longstanding: they are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution," he added. "A negotiated two state solution is the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I urge the leaders of both sides to demonstrate the courage, vision and urgency needed to achieve this.”

The US State Department

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf called the new housing “unhelpful” and “illegitimate.”

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