RAMALLAH, May 26, 2015 (WAFA) – Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to discuss the borders of settlement blocs as an attempt to legitimize illegal settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
“The recent comment by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the ‘two-state solution’ is nothing new. It’s a request to continue illegal settlement construction with Palestinian consent,” Erekat said in a press release.
“This looks like one state and two systems rather than two sovereign and democratic states,” he added. Erekat stressed that if Netanyahu wants to have meaningful negotiations, which would result in ending the occupation that began in 1967, he should recognize a Palestinian State on the 1967 border and honor Israel’s obligations including halting settlement construction and releasing Palestinian political prisoners.
Last week, Netanyahu told the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, that he wants to resume talks with the Palestinians, that are aimed at reaching an understanding on the borders of settlement blocs that Israel would annex under any peace agreement.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, an Israeli source briefed on Netanyahu’s meeting with Federica Mogherini last Wednesday said Netanyahu explained that in this way, Israel can get to know what parts of the West Bank Israel could continue building in.
To be noted, settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
The settler population in the West Bank is estimated at 531,000: in late 2012 the population of the West Bank settlements was 341,400; in late 2011 there were 190,423 individuals living in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
Israel has been approving the building of new housing units in settlements located in the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, despite of international condemnations.
The Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice have all confirmed that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and other settlement-related activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal under international law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was previously quoted by media as stating that, “We will continue to build in Jerusalem. We will add thousands of residential units and withstand all the [international] pressure, as we continue to develop our eternal capital.”