Washington DC, Nov. 9 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) strongly criticized plans announced by the Israeli government to build over 900 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and hundreds of additional units elsewhere in the West Bank. The plans were announced during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu current visit to the United States, during which he is meeting with senior Administration officials.
Almost 1000 new housing units are planned for the Har Homa settlement in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area. This settlement has been controversial from its outset in the late 1990s during the first Netanyahu Cabinet. After the Annapolis meeting in 2007, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning." Another 320 housing units are planned for the Ramot settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. A further 800 housing units have been announced for the settlement of Ariel, which juts deeply into the West Bank, threatening the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state.
The Obama administration has consistently emphasized its opposition to continued settlement activity, including in occupied East Jerusalem. In his speech before the UN General Assembly in 2009, Pres. Barack Obama clearly stated that, “we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
ATFP urged the US government to operationalize this position and to send a clear message to all who are involved in settlement activity that their actions run counter to US policy and national interests. This includes those authorizing, promoting and funding such projects, including banks and other lending institutions, and, of course, the individual settlers, their organizations, and the construction companies engaged in creating realities on the ground.
ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said, “We urge the Administration to act firmly to prevent these plans from proceeding. A strong, clear US position on this matter will send an unmistakable signal to regional leaders about the need to preserve the integrity of the two-state solution, and can give them the margin to start acting in ways conducive to reaching a conflict-ending peace agreement. Ultimately, the two-state solution is too important for US, Israeli and Palestinian national interest to be jeopardized by narrow political considerations.”