Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In a visit to two Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that they will be part of Israel "for eternity". His words have angered the Palestinians, endangering the United States' attempts to find ways to resume dialogue between the two peoples.
Netanyahu went to visit two settlements of Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion yesterday, east and south of Jerusalem. Planting a tree in the first settlement - where there are 30 thousand Israelis - he said: "Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of Israel for eternity".
The statements by the premier fall within hours of the conclusion of the visit of George Mitchell, U.S. special envoy for the Middle East, who is trying to reopen the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The obstacle to the resumption of dialogue lies in the fact that Israel must live up to previous commitments to freeze Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the words of Netanyahu as "an unacceptable act that destroys all the efforts exerted by Senator Mitchell to bring the parties to the negotiating table."
Mitchell, who last week was in Israel, is now in Jordan. In Amman, he reaffirmed that the purpose of the United States is to build a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel.
Maaleh Adumim is one of the most important Jewish settlements in territories occupied by Israel in 1967. According to international law, an occupying power can not seize land from the occupied country. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, captured during the Six Day War of '67, now live almost 500 thousand settlers: 280 thousand in the West Bank and 190 thousand in the eastern part of Jerusalem. According to data from the Israeli organization Peace Now, since 2001 the Israeli population in the West Bank grew by 5-6%.