Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today condemned the Israeli government's approval this morning of plans for a new settlement in East Jerusalem, Givat Hamatos - the first new settlement to be established since Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his first term in office, defied the international community in the 1990s to establish Har Homa.
Due to its location, construction of Givat Hamatos would have a potentially devastating impact on any future effort to achieve a negotiated two-state solution regarding Jerusalem, making a future agreement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters or the Geneva Initiative impossible. APN welcomes the Obama administration's decision to call out the Israeli government's avalanche of settlement construction approvals for what it is - "a pattern of provocative action" - and urges President Obama to take concrete action to convince and compel the Netanyahu government to roll back these plans. In this week alone, the government of Israel announced plans to build an unprecedented number of 6,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. This follows the Israeli government's issuing of tenders for constructing thousands of new homes in West Bank settlements, and its announcement of plans to expedite settlement construction in E-1, the strategic corridor that connects East Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. APN's president and CEO Debra DeLee commented: "While Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet members continue to give lip service to the two-state solution, they are actively undermining that goal by building more and more homes for Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Indeed, they are actively pursuing plans that, due to their controversial nature and their potentially devastating impact on the viability of the two-state solution, no previous governments dared promote. The Netanyahu government's conduct is reckless. Whether out of a desire to pander to its right flank or an attempt to exploit what it views as an opportunity to promote a hardline ideological agenda, it is risking the future of Israel as a Jewish state and a democracy. Netanyahu said he will expand settlements to punish the Palestinians for seeking to upgrade their UN status. But by constructing more and more obstacles for peace, Netanyahu is punishing Israelis as much as he is punishing the Palestinians." For more on the new settlement project in East Jerusalem: http://peacenow.org.il/eng/PlanningStrikeEastJerusalem