Israel to separate West Bank from Jerusalem, EU envoy warns
âWe’re at 11:15 or 11:45 am to reach midnight right now,â Burgsdorff said Jerusalem post, as he stood with representatives from over 20 like-minded European countries at the site of the former Kalandia airport.
He expressed concern about two Israeli projects which they fear will destroy any prospect of a future Palestinian state.
European Union representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff speaking at the old Kalandia airport on November 22, 2021 (Tovah Lazaroff)
The project has largely been on hold for decades, but former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed the project forward in the last election and allowed his construction plans to be filed with the Judea and Samaria Higher Planning Council.
The Council is now hearing objections to the plans, with the next hearing date set for December 13. This is the last obstacle to the final approval of the E1 project.
The second project of concern to the EU is the ongoing construction of 9,000 housing units in the Atarot neighborhood of East Jerusalem on the site of what was once Kalandiya Airport, which opened in 1924. and closed in 2000. It is presumed that it is primarily intended for Jewish Israelis.
The Jerusalem District Planning Committee is due to hold a Dec. 6 hearing on the matter.
Burgsdorff and his delegation visited both sites, where they were briefed by left-wing NGO Ir Amim. They stopped to talk to reporters in Atarot. Behind the delegation was the construction site of a new bypass road with a tunnel that will pass under the projected houses.
To the left of the delegation stood the security fence that separated Atarot from the Palestinian buildings in East Jerusalem by Kafr Akab.
“We are here at the very last stage of the complete cut-off of Jerusalem from the West Bank, which makes it impossible to discuss between the parties of a future independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital of the two, on the basis of negotiations on this issue, âhe said.
European Union representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff speaking at the old Kalandia airport on November 22, 2021 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)” title=” European Union representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff speaking at the old Kalandia airport on November 22, 2021 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)”/>
He told reporters that the plans run counter to statements by the Israeli government regarding reducing the conflict and maintaining the status quo.
âThe current Israeli government has made it clear that we don’t want to jeopardize the status quo, but the things we are seeing on the ground seem to suggest otherwise,â Burgsdorff said.
âThe Israeli settlements are a flagrant violation of international law and constitute a major obstacle to a just and lasting[ing] and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, âhe explained. The EU cannot “turn a blind eye” to such actions, he added.
The EU and much of the international community believe in a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as the divided capital of states.
Israel has been adamant in its belief that Jerusalem must remain the united capital of the Jewish state and that projects such as Atarot and in the E1 area play an important role in protecting a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
It has also been argued that such projects, which provide access roads that would improve the flow of traffic, do not cut off Palestinians from the West Bank.
Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said that “Jerusalem is a living, breathing and growing capital of the State of Israel.”
Thanks to the works already carried out in the Atarot zone, âthe municipality had made Atarot a flourishing industrial zone with its very first [shopping] commercial center for the residents of East Jerusalem, with factories and workplaces providing hundreds of jobs.
âThe housing project will provide thousands of much needed housing units. The European Union should stop speaking in the language of the past and join in the development of the future by caring for Jews and Arabs and offering opportunities and not empty rhetoric and false hopes, âsaid Hassan -Nahoum.