Israel is about to separate West Bank from Jerusalem, EU envoy warns

Israel has reached the final stage of separating the West Bank from Jerusalem, European Union Representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff warned on Sunday.

“We are at 11:15 or 11:45 to arrive at midnight right now,” Burgsdorff said. The Jerusalem Post, while meeting representatives from more than 20 European and like-minded countries at the site of the former Kalandia airport.

He expressed concern over two Israeli projects that they fear would destroy any prospect of a future Palestinian state.

The first is the construction of about 3,500 settlement houses in an undeveloped area of ​​the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, known as E1.

The project has been largely frozen for decades, but former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advanced the project during the last election and allowed the deposit of his construction plans with the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria.

View of the desert near Ma’ale Adumim, in the West Bank, January 26, 2021 (credit: YANIV NADAV / FLASH90)

The Council is now in the process of hearing objections to the bills, with the next hearing date set for December 13. It is the last obstacle to the final approval of the E1 project.

The second project of concern to the EU is the pending construction of 9,000 homes in the Atarot area of ​​East Jerusalem, on the site of what was once the Kalandia Airport, which opened in 1924 and closed in 2000. It is presumed that it is designed primarily for Jewish Israelis.

The Jerusalem District Planning Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter on December 6.

Burgsdorff and his delegation visited both sites, where they were briefed by the left-wing NGO Ir Amim. They paused to speak to reporters at Atarot. Behind the delegation was the construction site of a new ring road with a tunnel that will pass under the projected houses.

To the left of the delegation was the security barrier that separated Atarot from the Palestinian apartment buildings of Kufr Aqab in East Jerusalem.

“We are here in the last stage of the total separation of Jerusalem from the West Bank, which makes it impossible to discuss between the parties a future, independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital of both, on the basis of negotiations on that matter. “, said.

He told reporters that the plans go against statements made by the Israeli government to reduce the conflict and maintain the status quo.

“The current Israeli government clearly said that we do not want to jeopardize the status quo, but the things that we are seeing on the ground seem to suggest something else,” Burgsdorff said.

“The Israeli settlements are a clear violation of international law and constitute a major obstacle to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he explained. The EU cannot “close its eyes” to such actions, he added.

The EU and much of the international community believe in a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as the divided capital of the states.

Israel has been outspoken about its belief that Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Jewish states and that projects like Atarot and E1 play an important role in protecting a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

He has also argued that such projects, which provide access roads that would improve the flow of traffic, do not isolate Palestinians from the West Bank.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said that “Jerusalem is a capital city of the growing state of Israel that lives and breathes.”

Due to the work already done in the Atarot area, “the municipality had turned Atarot into a thriving industrial zone with its first commercial center for the inhabitants of East Jerusalem with factories and workplaces providing hundreds of jobs.

“The housing project will provide thousands of much-needed housing units. The European Union should stop speaking in the language of the past and join the development of the future, serving Jews and Arabs alike and providing opportunities rather than empty rhetoric and false hope. “. Hassan-Naboum said.

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