Palestinians warn Israel over planned new settlements on West Bank
Negotiator Saeb Erekat says move would destroy peace process, reports Mark Weiss in Jerusalem
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: “Those who fear the ICC should stop committing war crimes, including the construction of settlements.” Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
The Palestinian Authority says it will appeal to the international community, including the International Criminal Court, if Israel announces plans for new West Bank settlement construction next week, following the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Israeli move would “destroy the peace process” and that the Palestinians would respond.
“We in the Palestinian leadership would immediately present our application for membership in 63 international organisations, among them the International Criminal Court (ICC),” he said. “Those who fear the ICC should stop committing war crimes, including the construction of settlements.”
The Palestinians had promised the US they would suspend moves to join international organisations, such as the ICC, for the duration of the negotiations, as Israel sees such efforts as an attempt to bypass the peace talks.
In a meeting on Thursday night, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas appealed to US envoy Martin Indyk to stop the Israeli government from issuing new settlement building plans.
Israel’s Channel 10 television says the EU is also exerting pressure on Jerusalem. An unnamed senior European diplomat told Channel 10 that there would be little sympathy in Europe if Israel declared more settlement building during the peace talks.“Israel needs to expect a harsh response by the European governments if it intends to go in this direction.”
When the peace talks resumed in the summer, Israel committed itself to releasing 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four phases: next week’s release, which will probably take place on Tuesday, marks the third phase.
However, Mr Netanyahu has angered Palestinians by linking each release with an announcement of settlement expansion. According to Israeli media reports, Mr Netanyahu will declare next week that Israel will build another 800 homes in West Bank settlements and 600 in disputed east Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry is expected to present US bridging proposals to the sides next month in a bold effort to break the deadlock.