The government of Benjamin Netanyahu intensified settlement
building despite increasing international criticism of Israeli settlements in
Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel said the new settlement plan came as a
sanction following a UN vote granting Palestine the status of “observer state.”
The new plan threatens to introduce substantial changes to Palestinian
sanctities with the judaization of al-Aqsa Mosque as a main goal. Israel plans
to erect new buildings adjacent to the mosque, expand the al-Birak area by
2,600 meters and build a new region under al-Birak Square or “The Wailing Wall”
according to Israelis, which is adjacent to the mosque’s western wall. Israel
deems these plans mandatory to achieve the Jewish State’s national goals.
The Palestinian Authority referred the case to the U.N. Security Council and
urged it to take a decision condemning Israel and ordering it to cancel its
These settlement plans spurred reactions inside Israel and some parties
considered them as a major step to accelerate the isolation of Israel.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed that Israel takes its
decisions based on its national goals and not as punishment or provocations
against other states.
“Absolutely everyone in Israel understands that we will
continue building settlements,” he said.
In turn, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz reassured Israelis by telling
them that international protests will not hinder the economic ties between
Israel, the United States and Europe despite political disputes.
The European Union had threatened the Israeli government to impose economic
sanctions and accelerate the enactment of a law binding European countries to
put special posters on the products of Israeli settlements.
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