Laurent-Fabius

French FM warns Israel over illegal settlement activities

The French foreign minister has called for the resumption of stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks, warning that Tel Aviv’s continued settlement expansion in the occupied lands scuttles the chances of a deal between the two sides.

“What’s important is that negotiations restart,” Laurent Fabius told reporters during a visit to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Saturday.

He stressed, however, that the prospect of a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians will recede if the Tel Aviv regime continues illegal land grab in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We need the rights of the Palestinians to be recognized because without justice there can be no peace,” added the top French diplomat.

Fabius’ comments come after French lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion to recognize Palestine as an independent state last December.

The last round of the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians collapsed last year. Tel Aviv’s illegal settlement activities and its refusal to release senior Palestinian prisoners were among the major reasons behind the failure of the talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally suspended the so-called peace talks with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority on April 24, 2014 after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forged a unity pact with Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement.

Israel also responded to the unity pact by announcing tenders for the building of 4,800 illegal settler units on the occupied Palestinian territories.

A general view of the illegal East al-Quds (Jerusalem) Israeli settlement of Ramat Shlomo (foreground) and part of al-Quds (background) (© AFP)

 

Last month, Israeli officials announced plans to construct between 900 and 1,800 new illegal settlement units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, censured the plans the following day, saying, “The face of a new form of racist, discriminatory Israel has been revealed.”

During his electoral campaign in March, Netanyahu had vowed to press ahead with settlement construction in al-Quds.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at a map showing new illegal settlement sites in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) during his electoral campaign in Har Homa neighborhood, March 16, 2015. (© AFP)

 

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank in 1967.

Israel has tried to change the demographic makeup of al-Quds over the past decades by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.

Palestinians argue that al-Quds is the capital of a future Palestinian independent state, and that its heritage should remain intact.

By Press TV