Lieberman: Israel to continue with settlement expansion

Lieberman: Israel to continue with settlement expansion
After a secret EU document emerged outlining sanctions against Israel if it continues with settlement building, Israel's foreign minister asserts his government's expansionist stance.
2 min read
17 November, 2014
The West Bank and East Jerusalem remain under Israeli occupation since 1967 [Getty]

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that Israel would never agree to limit its settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Lieberman was responding to a report published by the Israeli daily Haaretz which claimed that the European Union had distributed a confidential document to its 28 member states containing a draft proposal for sanctions against Israel if Tel Aviv took measures in the West Bank and Jerusalem that could make a two-state solution impossible.   

"We will not accept any restrictions on building in Jewish communities in (occupied east) Jerusalem – there will be no compromise on the matter," Lieberman said at a news conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.  

Lieberman rejected EU criticisms, asserting that Israelis would not accept defining construction in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank as "settlement building".

"Any attempt to levy such conditions is erroneous and does not contribute to stability, normalisation or the strengthening of ties between Israel and the Palestinians," Lieberman said.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said settlement building over the Green Line in Jerusalem was illegal and urged the international community to stop what he described as "Israeli escalation".

This is the second leaked EU document addressing the need to prevent a series of Israeli moves in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem deemed "red lines", which may hinder the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.  

A European diplomat quoted by Haaretz said "the peace process is in deep freeze, but the situation on the ground is not. There is big frustration in Europe and zero tolerance for settlement activity. This paper is part of the internal brainstorming being done in Brussels these days, about what can be done to keep the two-state solution alive".

Lieberman's comments come just days after Israel approved plans to build 200 homes in occupied East Jerusalem - despite months of almost daily clashes with Palestinian residents, triggered in part by settlement expansion.

There are now around 125 settlements in the West Bank, with approximately 350,000 inhabitants - not including the 12 official settlements in occupied East Jerusalem which house a further 300,000 residents.