South Africa blasts Israel’s plans

Tue, 24 Nov 2009

The South African government joined other countries on Tuesday in condemning Israel’s plans to build housing on occupied land in East Jerusalem.

“We condemn the fact that Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem is coupled with Israel’s campaign to evict and displace the original Palestinian residents from the city,” chief director for public diplomacy Saul Kgomotso Molobi said in a statement..

“These actions on the part of Israel jeopardise the prospects of resuming peace talks aimed at arriving at a final settlement to the conflict. [We are] deeply concerned that these activities by Israel will only serve to deepen the cycle of violence in the region.”

Molobi said as an occupying power, Israel had clear obligations under international law.

Plans for the construction of 900 new settlement units in Gilo were announced on 17 November.

“We call upon the Israeli government to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals and resume negotiations immediately,” said Molobi.

The Palestinian leadership said the expansion would result in an increase in the Israeli settler population over the next two years.

German press agency dpa reported on Tuesday that the housing units are to be built in Gilo, which Israel says is a suburb of Jerusalem, but which is located on land captured in the 1967 Middle East War and claimed by Palestinians as the capital of their future state.

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