By Ahmet Gürhan Kartal
Edinburgh: The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK on Thursday urged Israel to reverse its decision to advance settlement construction in the Har Homa E area.
The joint statement called on the Israeli government “to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the occupied West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
“Settlements are illegal under international law, and threaten prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it read.
If implemented, the statement said, “the decision to advance settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will cause further damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian State.”
“This move, alongside settlement advancement in Givat HaMatos and continued evictions in East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah, also undermines efforts to rebuild trust between the parties, following the positive resumption of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.
“We call on both sides to refrain from any unilateral action and resume a credible and meaningful dialogue, to advance efforts for the two-state solution and an end to the conflict,” it also said.
Sheikh Jarrah protests
At least four Palestinians were injured by Israeli police Wednesday during a solidarity demonstration with residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
They were protesting against the Israeli government’s plan to force some families out of their homes in the neighborhood.
The Israeli Central Court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Israeli settlers as of the beginning of this year.
Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in the neighborhood. However, illegal Jewish settlers have been trying to push them out on the basis of a law approved by the Israeli parliament in 1970.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced in 1948 to flee their villages and towns in historical Palestine to neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
Residents of another part of Palestine found themselves displaced to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank amid rising attacks by Zionist gangs to pave the way for the creation of the state of Israel.
Palestinians use “Nakba” in Arabic, or “The Catastrophe,” to refer to the 1948 expulsions by Zionist gangs.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict dates back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”