Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende says Norway joins in the unanimous international criticism of the decision by the Israeli Government authorising the construction of up to 800 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- This is incompatible with the support Israel has declared for a two-state solution, and casts doubt once again on the Netanyahu Government’s commitment to the peace process, Brende says.
On Wednesday 29 July, Mr Netanyahu’s Government announced that it will allow the construction of 300 new housing units in the settlement Beit El in the West Bank and up to 500 more units in East Jerusalem, in both cases on occupied Palestinian territory. This announcement came on the heels of a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court the same day that two illegally built residential buildings in Beit El would have to be demolished.
Both the UN and the International Court of Justice in The Hague have declared that the areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war are occupied territory, and that in moving its own citizens on to occupied territory, Israel is violating international law.
‘The building of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory violates international law and is an ever greater obstacle to a two-state solution. I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not disregard the unanimous criticism, which comes even from his closest friends in the international community,’ said Mr Brende.
Foreign Minister Brende is also concerned about what Norway perceives as an increasingly confrontational approach on the part of the Israeli settlers. The pressure is growing, both on the ground and within the Israeli Government. ‘When Israel’s Government rewards violence and pressure by the settlers by issuing new building permits, there is a danger of the conflict escalating further,’ Foreign Minister Brende warned.