The latest expansion into east Jerusalem is more sand in the gears of the moribund peace process. Unlike his predecessor, US President Donald Trump appears not to be bothered by continued construction plans.
The German Foreign Ministry responded on Monday to plans announced a day earlier in Jerusalem to build another 566 housing units in the annexed quarter of the city.
"We follow these developments with great concern and have repeatedly voiced our view: Building settlements in the occupied territories, also in east Jerusalem, contravenes international law and jeopardizes a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians, which only a two-state solution can achieve."
Israel's occupied territories - the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip - are not internationally recognized. Israel seized the territories during the Six-Day War of 1967 - leaving millions of Palestinians in a state of limbo. They have neither their own state nor Israeli citizenship, and as a result their ability to move freely within the occupied territories - particularly the West Bank and east Jerusalem - is limited.
As a stalwart ally of Israel, as well as its primary patron, the United States under former President Barack Obama tried to compel Israel to pursue a two-state solution.
A two-state solution
A sovereign Israel side-by-side with a sovereign Palestine is what the two sides agreed to pursue when they signed the Oslo Accord in 1993.
The international community overwhelmingly views Israel's continued settlement construction in the occupied territories as a barrier to the two-state solution, as it diminishes the prospects of a viable Palestinian state.
The Oslo I Accord was signed in 1993 by Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat
But Obama's efforts to nudge Israel towards peace talks were flatly rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave no appearance of wanting to fulfill the Oslo Accord.
Now, the United States has its own right-leaning government, led by President Donald Trump, which appears to share Jerusalem's disinterest in the Oslo treaty. On Sunday, just hours after Israel announced plans for its latest plans to build the new settlement in east Jerusalem, Trump invited Netanyahu to visit Washington in February, apparently without a hint of dismay over Israel's new settlement plans.
"The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president," Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told the Agence France-Presse news agency. "We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build."
bik/cmk (GFM, AFP)