September 20, 2008
Settlements make Palestinian state impossible: Arab League
CAIRO (AFP) -- Israel's policy of Jewish settlement building on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank is making a future Palestinian state impossible, Arab League chief Amr Mussa said.
Mussa said he would take the matter to the United Nations Security Council in New York and also ask for the Middle East peace quartet of the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States to discuss the matter.
""Settlements not only change the demographic and geographic composition of the occupied territories but make ... the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible,"" Egypt's official MENA news agency quoted Mussa as saying.
He said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had already contacted the Burkina Faso president of the Security Council, Michel Kafando, with a view to the council holding an extraordinary ministerial meeting.
Prince Saud called on September 8 for the Security Council to hold a meeting on Israeli settlements.
Israel is ""undermining the conditions of the peace process by intensifying the construction of settlements to change the situation on the ground,"" Saud said, adding that Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas backs the request.
Settlements activity will be discussed at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in New York on September 24 and when the Middle East peace quartet and the UN's Arab group meet at around the same time.
""Settlement activity can eliminate all the conditions necessary for the foundation of a Palestinian state and will necessarily lead to the abandoning of the choice of founding a state,"" Mussa said.
Israel and the Palestinians have been holding formal U.S.-backed peace talks since November 2007 aimed at resolving their decades-old conflict by the time U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.
The construction of Jewish settlements -- viewed as a major obstacle to reaching a peace deal -- has nearly doubled since 2007, the Israeli watchdog Peace Now said last month.
The Israeli housing ministry ""initiated 433 new housing units during the period of January to May 2008, compared to just 240 units during the period January to May 2007,"" Peace Now said.
The number of tenders for construction in the settlements increased by a massive 550 percent, from 417 housing units compared to 65 units in the same period last year.
In Arab east Beit-ul-MOqaddas, occupied and annexed by Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War, the number of tenders has increased by a factor of 38, the group said, from 46 units in 2007 to 1,761 in 2008.
The international community considers all settlement projects in the Israeli-occupied territories to be illegal.