Speaking after the announcements on 24 December that the Jerusalem District Planning Board issued approval for 1242 units in Mordot Gilo South, and that Ariel College is to be upgraded to university status thereby creating the first university in a settlement illegal under international law, Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East said:
Last week Foreign Secretary William Hague made clear our condemnation and deep disappointment at the approval of the East Jerusalem Ramat Shlomo plan. We also condemn the Jerusalem District Planning Board’s approvals for over 3150 units in Givaat Hamatos and 1242 units in Mordot Gilo South. These are further profoundly provocative actions that run contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention. By taking these steps, despite the international community repeatedly raising our profound concerns, the Israeli Government is damaging Israel’s international reputation.
We are also deeply disappointed in the decision to upgrade Ariel’s university centre. Ariel is beyond the Green Line in a settlement that is illegal according to international law. This decision will deepen the presence of the settlements in the Palestinian territories and will create another obstacle to peace. We reiterate our call on Israel urgently to reverse these decisions and take no further steps aimed at expanding or entrenching settlement activity.
When I spoke with President Abbas last week I expressed our appreciation for the measured response the Palestinian Leadership had been taking in response to Israel’s recent settlement announcements. We utterly and unreservedly condemn the recent call for a third intifada and a suicide campaign by a Hamas official. Incitements to violence and terror are unacceptable. We welcome that President Abbas has publicly rejected the recent inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders, and that he has stated clearly the position of the legitimate Palestinian Leadership which has accepted the State of Israel in 1967 borders.
Taken together, these further settlement announcements and comments deepen our worry for the region at such a crucial time, and demonstrate why we are convinced of the urgency for more positive indicators of change. Accordingly we continue to call on President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to show the strong leadership needed to achieve a return to negotiations for a two-state solution, which will bring a just and permanent solution to this conflict. We repeat our hope that 2013 will be the ‘year of peace’ for Palestinians, Israelis and all people of the region.