On the day after the UN vote to upgrade the status of Palestine to state, the Israeli government responded by pulling out, from the drawer, plans to build thousands of more settlement units.
The most controversial is the announced plan to build in the E-1 area between Maale Adumin and Hizme.
Israeli-American lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has just called this, on Twitter, the “weaponization” of the “settlement offensive”.
@DanielSeidemann – E-1 will signal the end of 2-state solution. E-1 can’t be built today – it requires further statutory planning, which will take 6-9 months
@DanielSeidemann – The report today indicates intent to complete E-1 planning now, leading to construction in 6-9 months.
Reuters reported here that “The decision was made on Thursday when it became clear that the U.N. General Assembly was set to upgrade the Palestinians’ status in the world body, making them a ‘non-member state’, as opposed to an ‘entity’, boosting their diplomatic clout…An Israeli official had earlier conceded that this represented a ‘total failure of diplomacy’ and warned there would be consequences – which were swift in coming. Plans to put up thousands of new settler homes in the wake of the Palestinian upgrade were always likely, but the prospect of building in an area known as E-1, which lies near Jerusalem and bisects much of the West Bank, is seen by some as a potential game changer”.
@DanielSeidemann – We learned that source of Israeli press reports on 3000 new E Jersusalem & WB settlement units, E-1 is Mark Regev, PM’s office spokesperson
While this is a response came less than 24 hours after the Palestinian move at the UN General Assembly, it also comes about a week after internal elections within Netanyahu’s Likud Party now ruling in Israel, in which all the top spots went to settlers and their far-right supporters. A few weeks earlier, also in preparation for Israel’s general elections now set for January 22, Netanyahu forged an alliance to run on a joint list with Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu party, currently Foreign Minister, who is now being treated as Netanyahu’s most essential partner and right-hand man.
UPDATE: UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon issued a statement on 2 December [a Sunday, but still two full days after the Netanyahu cabinet decision in reaction to the UN General Assembly vote on the state status of Palestine] which is posted here and which said:
“It was with grave concern and disappointment that the Secretary-General learned of Israel’s announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. This would include reported planning in the so-called E-1 envelope, which risks completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Settlements are illegal under international law and, should the E-1 settlement be constructed, it would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution…In the interests of peace, any plans for E-1 must be rescinded”.
In the statement, the UN Secretary-General also repeated [a ho-hum verb, less alarmist than the rest of the statement issued on Sunday] “his call on all concerned to resume negotiations and intensify efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and urges the parties to refrain from provocative actions”.