European states urge halt to settlement expansion as Israel presses on with forced evictions

European states urge halt to settlement expansion as Israel presses on with forced evictions
France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel to refrain from expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank.
3 min read
07 May, 2021
European states urged Israel to halt construction of 540 settlement units [Getty]
European powers urged Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, as tensions in East Jerusalem mount ahead of the planned forced displacement of Palestinian households from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

In a joint statement, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain said Israel should refrain from settlement building on Palestinian land, which is illegal under international law.

“We urge the government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the occupied West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the European nations said.

The proposed housing units will create a link between two major illegal settlements, Har Homa and Givat Hamatos. Israel approved the construction in April, a first since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

“If implemented, the decision to advance settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will cause further damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State,” the statement said.  

The joint statement came as tensions mounted in East Jerusalem ahead of a court hearing that could greenlight the eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah in favour of Jewish settlers.

Nightly clashes have taken place in Ramallah during the month of Ramadan to protest the decision. 

Sheikh Jarrah residents were originally scheduled for eviction on Sunday but the Supreme Court gave until Thursday to settle the dispute. The two sides have failed to reach an agreement, according to reports on Thursday.

Palestinians have called on Jordan to provide documents that would prove that the 28 homes earmarked for eviction are owned by the kingdom.

The families now slated for eviction had originally been displaced from their homes in the coastal cities of Yafa and Haifa following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. They relocated to the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Karm Al-Jaouni area in Sheikh Jarrah, which were under the Jordanian mandate.

Read also: Fighting Israel's erasure of Palestinian identity in Jerusalem

Dhaifallah Ali Al-Fayez, an official spokesman for Jordan's ministry of foreign affairs, told Arabi 21  that the search for the documents that would attribute the right to ownership to the Palestinian people was "still ongoing".

The families also asked the court on Thursday to allow them to again appeal the eviction order with new proof of ownership. 

Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and settlement expansion undermines the prospects of a two-state solution. Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — in the 1967 war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally, and views the entire city as its capital.

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