Though Israel on Thursday demolished a number of “West Bank” houses its Supreme Court deemed illegal, the US and Europe did not waste the opportunity to suggest that the building of new Jewish residences in areas claimed by the Palestinians called into question Israel’s commitment to peace.
The Palestinian Authority quickly latched onto that message.
“We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s announcement today of the advancement of nearly 300 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, as well as hundreds of new housing units in East Jerusalem,” said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
“Settlement expansion threatens the two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated resolution to the conflict,” the American official continued.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly approved the new Beit El and Jerusalem construction projects after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a demolition order against a Beit El neighborhood that it determined had failed to obtain proper approval.
The American condemnation came despite the fact that no signed peace agreements prevent Jewish construction inside the already-defined boundaries of existing Jewish settlements, nor has Israel ever agreed to even the possibility of surrendering Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, the European Union quickly followed up the American statement with condemnation of its own, insisting that the building of Jewish homes in disputed territories, rather than continuing Palestinian violence and incitement, was the primary obstacle to peace.
“The EU expects the Israeli government to demonstrate its commitment to the two-state solution not only in words, but also through its actions,” read the European response.
Needless to say, the Palestinian Authority was thrilled with the international reaction to the audacity of Jews building homes in Samaria, the ancient biblical heartland of Israel.
“These settlement measures and war crimes are part of a plan by Israeli leaders to impose a ‘Greater Israel’ on historic Palestine and destroy the two-state solution and the chance for peace,” said senior PLO figure Hanan Ashrawi, who sought to both outdo the condemnations emanating from the West and rewrite history.