The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has condemned the announcement that Israel intends to expand settlements in the West Bank and has called on the Middle Eastern state to halt this expansion.
he latest settlement plans would see up to 5,000 new housing units in the West Bank and in the environs of Jerusalem.
Minister Coveney also said he was “extremely concerned” about the spike in demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned structures in recent months, especially in light of the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit Israel and Palestine particularly hard.
Israel had tenuously agreed to cease its expansion into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank in recent months as a precursor to talks with the intention of normalising ties with the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement today, Minister Coveney said: “I condemn the latest announcement of significant further settlement expansion of close to 5000 new housing units in the West Bank and in and around Jerusalem. The construction of settlements in the Har Homa and Givat Hamatos and E1 areas undermines the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State.
“All settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal under international law. These activities damage efforts to rebuild trust between Palestinians and Israelis. I urge the Israeli government to reverse its actions in relation to these settlement plans, and to halt all settlement construction.
“I reiterate my call on Israel to halt demolitions and to allow for legal construction for Palestinian residents.”
Minister Coveney’s criticism comes as many EU and Middle-Eastern countries swiftly condemned the government of Benjamin Netanyahu for approving the settlements.
Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany, France and Turkey have all called for the decision to be reversed.