An Israeli government minister has called for Palestinians to be expelled from parts of the occupied West Bank currently under full Israeli control. Hardline Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel says Palestinians should be expelled from West Bank’s ‘Area C’, Anadolu Agency Reported.
According to the Anadolu agency, In a Wednesday interview with the Times of Israel website, controversial Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Israel should annex “Area C” — the 60 percent of the West Bank in which Palestinians have no authority under the terms of the Oslo Accords.
Signed in 1993, the accords were ostensibly meant to provide a framework for a “two-state solution” to the perennial Arab-Israeli dispute.
Ariel, who publicly opposes an independent state of Palestine, claimed Israel should instead earmark $2.6 billion to go towards raising living standards for Palestinians in other parts of the West Bank.
Naftali Bennet, the leader of Ariel’s Jewish Home party, has previously called for the entire West Bank to be formally annexed by Israel.
On the other hand, PLO members on Tuesday slammed Israel’s recent approval for the construction of 82 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in occupied East Jerusalem, calling the move an “insult” to the credibility of renewed peace negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The latest approval of settlement construction in the Palestinian capital, in defiance of International law and UN resolutions, serves as yet another reminder to the international community to hold Israel liable for the crimes it continues to commit against the land and people of Palestine,” PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
Erekat pointed out that the continual destruction of Palestinian homes and disruption of their livelihoods to make room for illegal settlement construction has confirmed the need for “decisive action” by the international community to end Israeli violence.
Singling out the European Union, Erekat stated: “It is no longer acceptable for world leaders to pay lip service to the two-state solution while providing Israel with assurances that their impunity will continue to grow.”
The Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee approved on Monday two permits to develop 82 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, according to a statement by Israeli NGO Ir Amim.
The recent construction approval is part of Israel’s larger plan to push the development of 1,600 settler housing units in the ultra-Orthodox settlement near the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat, which was first announced in 2010 during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden to Israel.
In November 2015, the Israeli government also approved 236 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, officially breaking the government freeze on settlement construction that had been in place since 2013 — although settlement construction had continued unabated during that time period.
Erekat slammed Israel’s decision, which was made just a few days after the opening of the Paris peace summit, where representatives from 29 countries, including representatives from the UN, EU, and Arab League, congregated to discuss renewed peace negotiations, calling the move “an insult to the credibility of the international community and its efforts to achieve peace and security for Palestinians, Israelis, and the entire Middle East.”
Some 400,000 Israeli settlers currently live in Area C — an almost 300,000 increase since the Oslo Accords were signed.
Ongoing illegal settlement building by Israel is seen as a major impediment to a future Palestine-Israel peace deal.