Abbas to test usefulness of UN upgrade as Israelis push crippling settlement plan

A crane completes a section of Israel's controversial separation barrier near Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp on 5 December 2012. (Photo: AFP - Ahmad Gharbali)

Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012

PA President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters on Wednesday that the newly announced projects in the E-1 area is a red line and that it further divides Palestinian land.

“If that project is implemented, we will use all legal and legitimate means to stop it, and we have something to say and do about these dangerous decisions,” Abbas said.

Abbas added that the Geneva convention could now be applied to the Israeli occupying force, as of Palestine's UN upgrade to an observer state, now equal in status to the Vatican.

As Israeli forces expand their occupation, they continue to violate a number of international laws including the prohibition of seizing properties, public or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the European Union has summoned Israel's ambassador to discuss the bloc's concerns over Israeli plans to expand its settlements in the West Bank, an EU foreign affairs spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns," Maja Kocijancic said.

The Executive Secretary General - the senior diplomat in charge of policy for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton - is Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington.

Previously, UK, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain had called in Israeli ambassadors on Monday for consultations and to express condemnation of the settlement plan, while Stockholm put out an official statement criticizing the Israeli actions.

EU states have been struggling to agree on a common response to the occupation expansion, but have demanded that Israelis rescind their plan to build 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem.

The spokeswoman said the EU reaction to Israel's new building plans would depend on the extent to which they threatened the creation of a viable state of Palestine.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat had told AFP that the settlement construction in the sensitive strip of the West Bank near Jerusalem would mean the end of the peace process.

And despite international protests, Israel moved forward with their plans on Wednesday. Their continued expansion is one, of many, punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority's success in gaining observer status at the UN.

While many were hoping that the PA upgrade would act as a deterrent to Israeli criminal actions, since it would allow the PA to take Israeli individuals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for violating international laws, this will be the first test of the upgrade's usefulness as they call on international institutions to assist with punitive measures.

Abbas said he had already asked Palestine's UN envoy to contact the UN Secretary-General and the president of the UN Security Council. Depending on their response, they will announce their procedural plans to take advantage of the much-debated international policing mechanisms and counter the Israeli settlement decision.

The official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa said Abbas had already formed a special committee, composed of experts in international law and diplomacy, to work with international organizations so that they may respond to Israeli criminal actions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

And the PA president said the Arab League's follow-up committee would convene end December to discuss the peace process now that Palestine is a non-member state.

(Reuters, Ma'an, Al-Akhbar)

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