Foreign Ministry Asks International Community to Penalize Israel

TEL AVIV, January 27, 2015 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called, in a statement Tuesday, upon the international community to impose sanctions on Israel for plotting to expand an illegal settlement in the southern West Bank.

The ministry said that such plan would further transform the West Bank into disconnected cantons, thus undermining the potential of a viable state of Palestine. The ministry, therefore, called for considering such a move a war crime that should not go unpunished by the international community.

The Israeli daily Haaretz said yesterday the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry had earmarked some $215,000 for the expansion of the illegal settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem City in the West Bank.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier ordered the establishment of a farm on the site, a prelude for expanding the nearby settlement Efrat, before international pressures on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rendered the project a failure.

The land where Israel is supposed to expand Efrat was declared a “state property” in 2011, before owners of the land filed an appeal against the decision to the supreme Israeli court. The court, nevertheless, has not responded to the lawsuit so far.

Settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Golan Heights, both occupied since 1967, are considered illegal in international law.

The Israeli human rights center B’Tselem says “Israel’s dramatic alteration of the West Bank map has precluded realization of Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable Palestinian state.”