Erekat of PLO Condemns Israel’s Decision to Expand Illegal Gilo Settlement

RAMALLAH, July 25, 2016 (WAFA) – PLO Secretary-General, Sa’b Erekat, strongly condemned the decision of the occupation authorities to advance plans to build 770 units in the illegal settlement of Gilo, said a press statement issued by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.

To be noted, Gilo settlement is built on lands of the Palestinian towns and villages of Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Wallajeh, between Bethlehem and Occupied East Jerusalem.

“This approval comes as Israel continues the construction of its Annexation Wall in the same area (Cremisan), as part of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine.”

Erekat stressed that such a decision further reflects the failure of the international community to stop Israel’s settlement expansion.

“ It comes as Israel receives more assurances that no action will be taken against its illegal policies of colonization and annexation of Occupied Territory, a war crime under International law.”

Israeli settlement construction in general, and in and around Occupied East Jerusalem in particular, is part of Israel’s political decision to bury the two-state solution by consolidating its illegal occupation and Apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, he said.

“However, this is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment for the two-state solution and take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the Occupied State of Palestine.”

He said, “We have asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries during our recent visit to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.”

“We will continue to exert all efforts to confront the Israeli illegal colonization projects with all possible tools towards ending the occupation and establishing our independent sovereign state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Erekat concluded.

According to the Palestinian information Center, “Israel’s Jerusalem municipality local planning and construction committee presented the construction plan for 770 illegal settlement units.”

The new units will be considered by Israel as part of the Jerusalem district, and will be built between the illegal Gilo settlement and the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities had previously approved 1,200 illegal settlement units to be built in the area, and the plans for 770 of them were reportedly presented late last week.

According to Israeli news website, Walla, excavations and preparation works for the new settlement units have already begun.

The head of the municipality’s local planning and construction committee, Meir Turgeman, reportedly disregarded international condemnations of Israel’s illegal settlement activity, saying that despite what happens politically, settlement construction would continue in occupied East Jerusalem and across the West Bank.

Earlier, in June, the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his war minister Avigodr Lieberman approved the construction of 800 illegal settlement units in the Ma’ale Adumim outpost and Occupied Jerusalem in response to anti-occupation attacks.