Belgian ministers concerned over Israeli decision to demolish Palestinian community in Jerusalem

BRUSSELS, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo in a joint statement denounced the imminent Israeli demolition of the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar east of Jerusalem in order to build Jewish settlement on its ruins and its settlement expansion plans.

They expressed grave concern following recent developments on the ground, stating that: “the situation, which was already very tense over the last few weeks, has deteriorated on several fronts.”

Following the decision of the Israeli High Court on 24th of May confirming the demolition orders against the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, the ministers reiterated that the destruction and forced displacement of this community would constitute a grave violation of Israel’s obligations, as occupying power, under international humanitarian law.

Moreover, Khan al-Ahmar is located in a particularly sensitive zone on the outskirts of Jerusalem, noted the ministers. “The extension of the neighboring settlements, by dividing the West Bank in two and completely isolating Jerusalem from its hinterland, would threaten the very prospect of the creation of a viable and contiguous State of Palestine in the future.”

Israeli authorities have announced in recent days the construction of several thousands of additional housing units in various settlements located in the West Bank.

In this context, the ministers wished to recall that all settlements are against international law and violate the obligations of Israel as military occupying power, as reiterated in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016.

“The continuing Israeli settlement activity verges on a de facto progressive annexation of the West Bank, erodes the prospect of a two-State solution and hinders the pursuit of a just and durable peace. It also contributes to the tensions between Palestinians and Israelis,” said the joint-statement.

Meanwhile, Didier Reynders and Alexander De Croo expressed concern over the absence of judicial action against a number of incidents of violence and vandalism committed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, such as recent uprootings of grapevines at several locations in zone C, including in the vicinity of Halhul near Hebron.

They called upon the Israeli authorities to take the necessary measures to put an end to this impunity and to guarantee the fundamental rights of Palestinians such as the right to property and the right to security.

The ministers stressed that violence and unilateral decisions reduce the chance of a solution. “Priority should be given to a resumption of negotiations between the parties.” concluded the statement.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency