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Muslim States Urge Greater International Pressure on Israel

Al-Quds Committee meeting in Morocco ends with calls for pressure on Israel to halt building in Judea and Samaria.
By Ari Soffer and AFP
First Publish: 1/18/2014, 7:01 PM

Laying the cornerstone for new neighborhood in Moshav Gitit, Jordan Valley (January 2nd 2014)
Laying the cornerstone for new neighborhood in Moshav Gitit, Jordan Valley (January 2nd 2014)
Flash 90

Muslim nations urged the international community Saturday to put pressure on Israel to stop construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, at the end of talks in Morocco.   

"The international community must... put pressure on Israel to stop the illegal and provocative settlement construction," a statement said at the end of a two-day Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee meeting in Marrakesh.  

Restricting building projects which benefits Jews in the region "will create a favorable context for the pursuit of peace negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), it said, and for relations between Israel, its Arab neighbors and the Muslim world at large.    

The committee was founded by the pan-Muslim Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 1975 to maintain Muslim control over Jerusalem, and in particular its holy sites.

Chairman King Mohamed VI of Morocco opened the meeting Friday by calling for "a strong mobilization of our own means and resources... to defend the Holy City."    

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas later claimed Israel was using the peace talks as a "cover" to expand Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. It is worth noting that the current US-brokered talks did not include a halt in Israeli building as one of its preconditions, despite US Secretary of State John Kerry branding Jewish communities in the region as "illegitimate".

The PA reacted angrily last week as Israel announced plans to build 1,800 new homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The move also saw Britain, Italy, France and Spain to summon Israeli ambassadors "in protest". In response Israel summoned European ambassadors on Friday to explain their countries' "pro-Palestinian bias".

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman "ordered to summon the ambassadors of the UK, France, Italy and Spain and stress to them that their perpetual one-sided stance against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians is unacceptable and creates the impression they are only seeking ways to blame Israel," his spokesman said in a statement.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused the European Union of a "hypocritical" attitude toward the peace process, saying it should be more concerned by Palestinian terrorism and officially-sanctioned anti-Semitism than Israeli housing construction.   

"This is hypocrisy," Netanyahu stated. "The EU calls our ambassadors in because of the construction of a few houses? When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel's destruction?" Netanyahu asked foreign correspondents at his annual new year reception.

"It's time to stop this hypocrisy," he said. "This imbalance... doesn't advance peace, I think it pushes peace further away."