Mohammed Shtayyeh
Mohammed ShtayyehFlash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh welcomed the European Union’s condemnation of Israeli plans to build 1,300 housing units for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

In a press statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency, Shtayyeh called on both Europe and the United States "to take firm positions to stop Israeli settlement expansion in the Palestinian territories and to protect the principle of the two-state solution."

"International inaction in dealing seriously with Israel's violations of international laws would encourage Israel to carry out more seizure of Palestinian lands, homes, and properties," he added.

Shtayyeh’s statement came after a European Union spokesperson claimed that "settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties. The European Union has consistently made clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides."

"We call upon the Government of Israel to halt settlement construction and to not proceed with the announced tenders," the statement concluded.

The tenders for construction of the housing units were issued on Sunday at the direction of Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Elkin, in the first such approval of construction under the Bennett-Lapid government.

On Tuesday, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price sharply criticized Israel's intention to approve the housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

"When it comes to what we've heard recently, we are deeply concerned about the Israeli government's plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank," Price told reporters.

"In addition, we're concerned about the publication of tenders on Sunday for 1,300 settlement units in a number of West Bank settlements," he added.

"We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution. We have been consistent and clear in our statements to this effect. We also view plans for the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts as unacceptable. We continue to raise our views on this issue directly with senior Israeli officials in our private discussions," Price said.