The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – together, the self-proclaimed Middle East Quartet – expressed “concern” Tuesday over construction for Israelis in the Samaria city of Ariel.
“The Quartet is greatly concerned by Israel's recent announcements to advance planning for new housing units in Ariel and East Jerusalem,” the group declared.
A United States State Department spokeswoman termed the housing plans "deeply troubling" and "counterproductive."
The city of Ariel is one that Israel considers to be within the “national consensus,” that is, territories that Israel plans to keep under any future diplomatic agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Jerusalem is not only part of the consensus, but has been officially annexed to the rest of Israel.
The Quartet statement appears to indicate that Quartet nations not only do not recognize Israel's reunification of Jerusalem, but do not believe that Israel will truly be able to maintain control of “consensus” lands in talks with the PA.
It also shows support for the PA's insistence that it rightfully owns all lands east of the 1949 armistice line; lands that were controlled by Jordan for 19 years before being restored to Israel 44 years ago.
Nearly 600,000 Israelis live in Judea, Samaria and neighborhoods of Jerusalem east of the 1949 armistice line.
PA leaders insist that the region be given to them free of Jews, a demand which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rejected, saying, “Judea and Samaria cannot be Judenrein.”