dinsdag 8 september 2009

Na goedkeuring 500 nieuwe woningen in nederzettingen wil Netanjahoe even rustig aan doen

One of Netanyahu's main messages is that Israel has done its part, and that he is now waiting to see what gestures toward normalizing ties Arab states are willing to make.
Dat klinkt weinig overtuigend als je juist nog snel de bouw van 500 woningen in de Joodse nederzettingen hebt goedgekeurd. Daarmee maakt Netanjahoe de boodschap van de bevriezing ongedaan, dat Israel een stap zet en nu op een gebaar van de andere kant wacht.

Netanyahu: Settlement construction to slow, once 500 new homes built
By Mazal Mualem, Barak Ravid, Chaim Levinson and Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondents and Agencies
Last update - 08:43 06/09/2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with several Likud cabinet ministers and Knesset members over the weekend, in an attempt to persuade them to support a freeze on construction in the West Bank settlements.

One of Netanyahu's main messages is that Israel has done its part, and that he is now waiting to see what gestures toward normalizing ties Arab states are willing to make.

The security cabinet is scheduled to meet on Sunday to continue its preparation for the arrival later this week of U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Ministers and MKs who spoke with Netanyahu and his associates told Haaretz that the prime minister showed them the final agreement reached with the U.S. administration on suspending settlement construction. A source in the Prime Minister's Office said Netanyahu did not use the word "moratorium" or "freeze," opting instead to describe the proposed measure as "reducing the scale of construction."

Netanyahu's announcement late last week that he intends to approve the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the settlements before the suspension of building takes effect has drawn criticism from the international community.

European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Stockholm on Friday, criticized the decision in a statement by Javier Solana, the outgoing EU foreign policy chief.
"The position of the European Union is well known. All settlement activities must stop," Solana was quoted as saying.

British Foreign Minister David Milliband seconded Solana, describing the settlements as "illegal" and as "posing an obstacle to the peace process."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a well-known supporter of Israel in the EU, said that EU foreign ministers are in agreement on the issue.
"The foreign ministers of the European Union condemn the announcement on new construction in settlements right when the international community is asking Israel to freeze [construction]," Frattini said. "Ending construction was essentially the sole precondition for restarting the negotiations."

France also condemned Netanyahu's decision, saying that it went against Middle East peace efforts.

The White House also criticized the decision Friday. "We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction," a White House statement said. "Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the road map."
The White House added that the administration of President Barack Obama "does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop. We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate."
In response to a reporter's question, the White House spokesman said that the U.S. had been informed of Netanyahu's intention to proceed with new construction in the West Bank.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Mitchell and the Israelis had been having "a very open dialogue" in "very intense discussions." He would not elaborate.

But one U.S. official familiar with Mitchell's meeting last week in New York with Netanyahu envoy Yitzhak Molcho said the Israelis "told Mitchell they were going to [continue construction] and he told them they could expect a sharp response."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the meeting had "not gone well." He added that the White House statement was released before a formal Israeli announcement of Netanyahu's plans because "we wanted to send a strong signal early on."

Meanwhile, settlers are planning to step up their protests against the construction freeze, irrespective of Netanyahu's announcement of approval for hundreds of new homes in the settlements. Settler leaders said 500 housing units will be built in places such as Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim and Beitar Ilit, where demand is enormous, and in Gush Etzion.

"The demand is for hundreds of housing units in each of these communities, not just a few hundred in total. The construction will probably take place to the east of the fence," according to Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council.

"A freeze has enormous political implications which are no less than a catastrophe for the settlement enterprise. Freezing construction in Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Beitar, what are called the 'settlement blocs,' places them clearly on the negotiating table. Why would the state freeze construction in areas that are not open for negotiation? There is nothing that signals to the Arabs that it is possible to restore them to the 1967 border than such a freeze," Dayan said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to approve the holding of a groundbreaking ceremony at Ma'aleh Adumim this week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the planned approval of residential construction as "unacceptable."

"What the Israeli government said [about the planned construction] is not useful," Abbas said after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday. "It is unacceptable to us. We want a freeze on all settlement construction."

Abbas also told journalists that a possible summit meeting with Netanyahu and Obama in New York at the UN General Assembly later this month depended on "steps that are taken beforehand regarding a settlement construction freeze."

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also criticized the move on Friday, saying it would derail any progress in peace negotiations.

"I think the only thing that will be suspended by this announcement is the peace process," Erekat said.

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