Palestinian anger as Israel allows settlers to return to 4 outposts

RAMALLAH: Palestinians on Tuesday voiced outrage after Israel approved a law that will allow Israeli settlers to rebuild four West Bank outposts evacuated almost two decades ago.

A bill overturning the so-called “separation law” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was approved by an Israeli Parliament plenary on Monday.

Israel evacuated settlements in the occupied northern West Bank as part of the disengagement plan from Gaza in 2005.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, condemned the Knesset’s move, which he said “violates all resolutions of international legitimacy, especially Resolution (2334), which considers all settlements illegal in all Palestinian territories.”

Abu Rudeineh said that the Israeli government is working to thwart international efforts to prevent escalation.

He called on the international community, especially the US administration, to pressure the Israeli government to stop its unilateral policies that violate international laws and signed agreements.

Jibril Rajoub, the Fatah Central Committee secretary general, told Arab News that settlers were trying to return to the Homesh settlement even before the law was passed.

He accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ignoring the agreements of the Aqaba summit three weeks ago.

“It is likely that neither he nor his government will abide by the understandings of the Sharm El-Sheikh summit, and that tension will inevitably come during Ramadan,” Rajoub told Arab News.

Ahmed Majdalani, Palestinian minister of social development, said the Israeli law is a continuation of the Israeli government’s settlement expansion program.

Palestinians view Israeli settlement expansion as an existential threat to the two-state solution, which they have demanded since 1967.

More than 650,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in more than 150 settlements, all considered illegal by the UN and under international resolutions.

Former senior diplomat Nasser Al-Kidwa told Arab News that it is clear Israel will quickly annex the West Bank.

He added: “Perhaps the worst thing about it is that the Palestinian Authority gives it political cover by accepting to participate with it in the Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh meetings instead of boycotting and isolating it, and asking the world not to deal with it.”

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation and denunciation of offensive and racist statements made by an official of the Israeli occupation government against Palestine and its people.

In a statement, the ministry affirmed the Kingdom’s position rejecting the statements of Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich.

The ministry said the comments are contrary to the truth, contribute to spreading hate speech and violence, and undermine efforts for dialogue.

It also renewed the Kingdom’s support for international efforts aimed at resolving the Palestinian issue based on the Arab peace initiative and ensuring the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, Israeli extremist settlers from the Price Tag group wrote racist slogans, painted a six-pointed star on a truck and two vehicles, and damaged more than five vehicles in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to Palestinian sources.

Anwar Al-Julani, a neighborhood resident, said that the Israeli police came to his house in the morning, demanded he check the surveillance cameras, and then confiscated the recording device from family members.

He added that police told him that two settlers vandalized cars and wrote slogans at 3 a.m.



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