Gulf News (Editorial)
December 28, 2007 - 2:40pm

During this festive season, Israel has given the Palestinians one less reason to celebrate through its announcement that it will expand two of its existing illegal colonies. This comes at a time when the "serious negotiations" following the Annapolis conference were set to resume between Israelis and Palestinians.

In fact, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were scheduled to meet on Monday for the second time since last month's US-sponsored conference, but that meeting is now put on hold.

How can the Palestinians participate in any talks while Israel continues to defy international law and previously agreed upon parameters of peace? Israel's message is clear: regardless of what the international community says and despite what has been agreed upon in Annapolis, it will unilaterally decide on what is acceptable and what is not.

Its expansion plans in Jabal Ghunaim and Maale Adumim colonies will inexorably create a wall of colonies around Occupied East Jerusalem, thereby isolating it from Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank. This will disrupt any future attempt to make it the capital of a Palestinian state.

And to make matters worse, Israel has the backing of the US President George W. Bush who in 2005, gave former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon guarantees that certain colonies in Occupied Palestine would continue to grow, despite their illegality.

There is no negotiation when it comes to building or expanding illegal colonies in occupied Palestine. The Palestinian negotiating team must insist that Israel's latest illegal plan be stopped immediately before any further meetings can take place.

What's worse is if Israel agrees to put its plans on hold for the sake of dialogue and then go ahead with them at a "later stage". It wouldn't be the first time.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017