SA condemns Israeli settlements in Gilo

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa has joined the international community in condemning Israel's plans to build 900 new housing units at Gilo, situated in East Jerusalem.

"We condemn the fact that Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem is coupled with Israel's campaign to evict and displace the original Palestinian residents from the City," said International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi.

He said such activities will prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.

"South Africa maintains that these attempts by Israel to create facts on the ground imperil attempts to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict, namely that of two states, Israel and Palestine existing side by side in peace within internationally recognised borders."

He stressed that these actions on the part of Israel jeopardise the prospects of resuming peace talks aimed at arriving at a final settlement to the conflict.

"South Africa is deeply concerned that these activities by Israel will only serve only to deepen the cycle of violence in the region. As an occupying power, Israel has specific and clear obligations under international law. "

Molobi emphasised that the issue of Jerusalem is one of the final status issues that needs to be part of a negotiated solution to the conflict in the Middle East.

"We call upon the Israeli government to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals and resume negotiations immediately. "

South Africa's joins many countries including the European Union (EU) which also expressed its dismay.

Gilo, with a population of 40 000, is included within Jerusalem municipal boundaries by the Israeli government.

Israel claims that Gilo is one of Jerusalem's neighbourhoods, while the United Nations and the Palestinians say that Gilo is a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.