EU leaders blasts major Israeli settlement plan in West Bank

EU heads of state recently castigated an extremist Israeli minister’s plans to build a large settlement in the illegally occupied West Bank, The National reported on March 24. 

Israel’s drastic shift to the right is emphasised by the lauding of cabinet ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter of whom recently touted the idea of building on 800 hectares of land in the West Bank which would be the largest creation of a settlement since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Mr Smotrich, who was appointed Finance Minister in 2022, has made a string of racist remarks against Palestinians and Arabs in general, even going as far as denying the existence of Palestinian people, opposing Palestinian statehood and calling for the expulsion of Palestinian people from occupied territories. 

The recognition of the 800 hectares of land in the Jordan Valley (which forms the border between Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west) as “state land”, a move condemned by the EU and UN, follows a similar designation of 740 acres in the Maale Adumim area of the West Bank. 

Regarding the recent settlement plan, Smotrich said, “While there are those in Israel and in the world who seek to undermine our right to Judea and Samaria (a term used by Zionists to refer to the West Bank) and the country in general, we promote settlement through hard work and in a strategic manner all over the country.” 

The European Union reacted to the controversial plan by stressing the need for international law to be upheld. 

“This is the largest confiscation since the Oslo Accords. Settlements are a grave breach of international humanitarian law. At this week’s European Council, EU leaders condemned Israeli Government decisions to further expand illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank, urging Israel to reverse these decisions.” 

“The EU will not recognise changes to the 1967 borders unless agreed by the parties. This position goes hand in hand with the EU’s commitment to Israel’s security and to ensuring that the horrific attacks against Israeli civilians on 7 October will never be repeated. The EU is determined to fight such terrorism in word and deed, by continuously condemning Hamas in the strongest possible terms and through sanctions and other measures. Settlement expansion runs counter to this objective.” , the bloc said in a statement. 

READ:US and France slam Israel’s Gaza settlement idea

Palestine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that this was yet another push towards completely driving out Palestinians from their homeland, calling on the international community to do more to hold Israel to account. 

The United States has on two occasions, most recently on March 14, in the past couple of months sanctioned Israeli settlers who have committed violent acts whilst living in the West Bank. 

Those who had sanctions imposed against them saw any assets associated with them frozen and US nationals were strictly forbidden from having ties with them. 

France has also promised to take strong actions against Israel settlers, having previously called violence against Palestinians in the occupied territory a “policy of terror”. 

Since the start Israel’s brutal war on Gaza which has killed 32,500 according to recent data, the Palestinian Health Ministry said that 450 people have died and thousands more have been wounded in the West Bank. 

The National 

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