12/03/2012, 00.00
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Ban Ki-moon: The new Israeli settlements kill peace

by Joshua Lapide
The United States, Europe and the Israeli left judge the move as "the last nail in the coffin of the two-state solution." Netanyahu indifferent to international criticism. The Israeli government stops the payment of taxes to the Palestinian Authority.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The project to build new Jewish settlements near East Jerusalem are a "fatal blow" to the hopes of peace, said the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday.

A few hours after the General Assembly vote to include Palestine as a non-member and observer State, the Israeli government authorized the construction of 3 thousand houses for settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Ban declared that building must be stopped in East Jerusalem, in an area called E1, near the settlement of Maleeh Adumim: it "represents a fatal blow to the remaining ability to ensure the two-state solution."

The United States and the European Union have also expressed their "grave concern" over the Israeli decision. In Israel left-wing activists and personalities also expressed themselves against their government's decision affirming that these new settlements "put the last nail in the coffin of the two states solution."

New settlements on the E1 would cut the Palestinian territories in half and separate East Jerusalem (which the Palestinians want as their capital) from the rest of the West Bank.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be insensitive to criticism. At a Cabinet meeting yesterday he condemned the UN's move on Palestine as a "gross violation" of agreements with Israel and reiterated that his government "will continue to build in Jerusalem, and in all places according to the map of Israelis strategic interests".

Yesterday, the government has also decided not to pay 100 million dollars in taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The official reason is that the Palestinians owe 200 million dollars to the Israeli company that provides electricity to the territories. But the Israeli Ministry of Finance has long threatened retaliation against Palestinian moves at the UN.

Since the 1967 occupation, Israel has built more than 100 settlements for 500 thousand Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to international law, they are all illegal. The continued destruction of Palestinian land for Israeli settlers is the main reason of the stalled bilateral talks.


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