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PA Says Israeli Housing Decision is 'End of Peace Process'

Former PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says the decision to build between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim means the “end of the peace process.”
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/5/2012, 5:20 PM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

Former chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, declared Wednesday that Israel's decision to build in the area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim meant the “end of the peace process.” IIsraelis wondered what peace process he was talking about, as negotiations were broken off by Mahmoud Abbas despite the ten-month buiding freeze Israel imposed on itself

The plan to build some 3,000 housing units in the 3-mile (5-kilometer) strip east of the Israeli capital was approved Wednesday by IDF Civil Administration's planning committee.  There is now a 60-day waiting period in which the public is invited to file objections to the plans.

"If Israel decides to start building in E1 and approves all the settlements in it, we consider it to be an Israeli decision to end the peace process and the two-state solution, which ends any chance of talking about peace in the future,” Erekat told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

Any construction is unlikely to begin for years in any case, since such development is a multi-step process that requires reams of red tape. The plans have already been on hold since 2005, in deference to unending political pressure from successive U.S. administrations in Washington D.C.

A spokeswoman for the European Union said late Wednesday afternoon that Israel's Ambassador to the EU had been summoned to EU headquarters in Brussels to discuss the decision.

"The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns,” the spokeswoman said. She added that the European body's reaction to the E1 development plan would be governed by “the extent to which Israeli moves represent a strategic threat to the possibility of a contiguous and viable state of Palestine with Jerusalem as a shared capital.”

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told his aides Tuesday to recruit support from the international community to halt “Israeli settlements in all of the Palestinian territories, particularly what is referred to as E1... We cannot be silent on the matter of settlements by any means,” he said.

"We will pursue this endangering matter with great attention in the coming days for if Israel continues to build, it indicates that it is not interested in arriving at peace.”

During his visit to the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Petr Necas for his country's support at the United Nations during the vote that granted the PA its new status as a nonmember observer state.

"I know that your country has learned the lessons of history,” Netanyahu said. “So has my country, Israel. That is why Israel will not sacrifice its vital interests for the sake of obtaining the world's applause. Israel is committed to a genuine peace with our Palestinian neighbors – a genuine and durable peace.

"We remain committed... to a negotiated settlement between us and our Palestinian neighbors. That solution is a two-state solution for two peoples, a peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State of Israel.

“Unfortunately, on Thursday the Palestinians asked the world to give them a state without providing Israel with peace and security in return. The U.N. resolution completely ignored Israel's security needs. It didn't require the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state. It didn't even call on it to end the conflict with Israel. And this is why it was unacceptable to Israel, and that is why, too,  it has been unacceptable to all responsible members of the international community,” he explained.