The Palestinian Authority on Thursday condemned Israel’s decision to build new housing projects in Jerusalem and accused the Israeli government of seeking to create new 'facts on the ground,' the PA-run Maan news agency reported.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) on Thursday approved 1,600 apartment units in the Jerusalem haredi neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo late on Wednesday night. It was also reported the Interior Ministry was working to prepare two additional projects, including 2,000 projects in Givat Hamatos and 625 units in Pisgat Zeev.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the decision was an attempt by the Israeli government to create new facts on the ground ahead of a UN vote next month on recognition of a PA state along the pre-1967 lines.
But observers note the approval of 1,600 units by Israel today -- or 2,700 more later in the week -- does not mean they will magically appear within the month and would, therefore, have no influence on the vote at the UN.
Abbas’s Fatah faction accused Israel of waging a “new aggression” by approving the new projects in Jerusalem.
“We reject the policy of the Israeli occupation government to solve its social and economic problems at the expense of the Palestinians and their occupied territories,” Fatah added in a statement.
“We are determined to defend the rights of our people and resist the occupation’s settler projects through legal means.”
Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem are technically 'disputed territories' under international law, and have been since their liberation from Jordan's illegal 17-year occupation of those sections of the British Mandate, which began in 1948. There has never been a 'Palestinian state' for Israel to occupy.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the housing projects as a “war crime” and urged US President Barack Obama to change his position against the PA’s statehood bid at the UN.
“We condemn this action which is considered a war crime by the 1949 Geneva Conventions,” Erekat said.
Israel's construction would only be a violation of the Geneva Convention if the areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority were 'occupied territories' rather than the 'disputed territories' legal experts define them as.
“The only way to preserve the option of the two-state solution – Palestine and Israel – is through the UN and that Palestine be accepted as a member on the 1967 borders,” Erekat said. “Then the policy of settlement construction and imposing dictates on us will become null and void.”
Erekat also criticized the US and other countries for putting pressure on the PA to abandon its statehood plan. “This pressure is completely unacceptable and will plunge the region into a cycle of violence, extremism, anarchy and bloodshed,” he cautioned.
The US, one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the UN security council has promised to scuttle the PA statehood bid should it be raised in September.
Israel maintains Jerusalem -- in which it has exercised de jure sovreignty since 1967 -- will never be divided.