Japan deplores plan to expand Gilo settlement 23Nov09 November 24, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  23 November 2009

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The government of Japan on Sunday deplored Israel’s Jerusalem municipality for approving the construction of 900 housing units in the Bethlehem-area settlement of Gilo last week.

Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to Ma’an that “the Government of Japan calls on the Government of Israel to freeze settlement activities including ‘natural growth’ in the West Bank which includes East Jerusalem.”

The statement added, “Israel’s decision this time would hamper the efforts for realization of a comprehensive Middle East peace and the ongoing endeavors for re-launching peace negotiations.”

“It is incumbent on both Israel and the Palestinians to fulfill the previous obligations such as those under the Road Map. Japan strongly hopes that the peace negitations will be resumed as soon as possible,” the statement concluded.

On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called the plan “more than regrettable.”

The Swedish presidency of the European Union said on Wednesday it was “dismayed” by the announcement.

“The presidency recalls that settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem are illegal under international law,” the presidency said. “Such activities also prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.”

Crucially, the EU’s executive also “recalls that the European Union has never recognized the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 nor the subsequent 1980 basic law,” in which Israel claimed Jerusalem, including the occupied eastern half, as its “undivided” capital.

“The actions taken by the Israeli Government contravene repeated calls by the international community, including the Quartet,” the presidency added. “If there is to be genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”


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