Palestinian officials are threatening to use the new status conferred by last week’s United Nations vote to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it continues to expand West Bank settlements.
“By continuing these war crimes of settlement activities on our lands and stealing our money, Israel is pushing and forcing us to go to the ICC,” Nabil Shaath, a senior aide to the Palestinian President, said.
Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the international community should consider trade and other sanctions. “We have to move to concrete steps so Israel knows it has something to lose and will be held accountable, in accordance with international law,” she said.
Days after the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed to build thousands of new homes for Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, officials said they would fast-track plans for 1,700 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, an Israeli neighbourhood across the pre-1967 frontier. The plans caused an uproar when they were first announced during a visit by the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, in March 2010.
On the Mount of Olives, the home of the Abu Alhawa family – constructed without an Israeli permit – was demolished early on Tuesday, 24 hours after Israelis moved in under heavy guard to a building in Jabel Mukaber, an Arab neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee is due to discuss Town Plan 14295 creating 2,610 new residential units at Givat Hamatos in south Jerusalem.
It will be the first new Israeli neighbourhood constructed across the pre-1967 frontier for more than a decade, completing a strategic ring of housing separating Jerusalem from nearby Bethlehem.
Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now Settlement Watch, condemned the plans as “a dangerous provocation which is threatening the stability in the fragile situation of Jerusalem”.