Norway deplores decision to build new Israeli settlements
“I deplore the fact that Israel has once again approved the construction of a large number of new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The building of settlements on occupied land is a violation of international law and threatens the basis for a two-state solution,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
The Israeli authorities announced on 6 November that they are inviting bids for the construction of 1 285 new housing units in the settlements of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev in East Jerusalem and the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.
The building of these new housing units will make 2012 a record year for the construction of Israeli settlements. It is over ten years since Israel last put out to tender the construction of so many new homes in the occupied Palestinian territory. Yesterday’s announcement alone signalled the building of a number of housing units equivalent to two per cent of all homes built in the occupied territory since 1967.
“We have seen a steady increase in the expansion of Israeli settlements and illegal acquisition of Palestinian land, and this latest announcement is in line with this trend,” Mr Eide said.
In October, the Israeli authorities approved the construction of 797 new housing units in the settlement of Gilo and 108 new housing units in East Talpiot in East Jerusalem. Israel is also planning to build a military academy on non-Israeli territory on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In addition, two new settler outposts have been built in the West Bank this autumn: Nahalei Tal and Tzofim North, northwest of Ramallah and adjacent to the Tzofim settlement north of Qalqilya, respectively.
“I urge Israel to reverse the decision to invite bids for the construction of new housing units. The Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem are hampering efforts to find a solution to the question of Jerusalem,” Mr Eide said.