Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
May 31, 2008 - 11:00pm

Washington, DC, June 2 – New Israeli settlement expansions in and around occupied East Jerusalem threaten prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, according to the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). On Monday ATFP warned that further Israeli construction in and around Jerusalem dangerously prejudiced final status talks and made the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem more difficult.

Israeli media has reported that Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim will today announce bids for the construction of more than 900 new homes in and around occupied East Jerusalem. 121 units will reportedly be in the “Har Homa” settlement and 763 in “Pisgat Zeev,” in addition to 286 units re-scheduled for constructed in “Beitar Ilit.” These are among the most sensitive areas in the city environs, and such construction threatens to cut Palestinian East Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank.

Palestinian and Israeli peace groups warn that such moves could have a devastating impact on the chances of achieving an agreement based on a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israeli in peace and security. The United States government has also repeatedly stated that settlement construction is not compatible with the vision of two states living in peace.

ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said, “We hope that the Israeli government will see how counter-productive these settlement plans are to Israel’s repeatedly stated strategic goal of building peace with Palestinians based on two states. Jerusalem is a central issue to be resolved in peace talks between the parties, along with borders, refugees, security and other major concerns.” Asali said that, “Such settlement projects deeply undermine not only the diplomatic gains since Annapolis, but more significantly the very possibility of reaching a negotiated agreement to end the conflict.” “Israelis know what issues are essential to them, and Palestinians need to understand those,” he continued, “but Israelis too need to understand that an agreement that does not include a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem will not be workable.” “These new housing projects do not serve the national interests of Israel, the Palestinians or the United States.” Asali concluded.

The Task Force urged Administration officials to raise this issue with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his trip to Washington that begins on Tuesday.






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