On Monday of this week Nickolay Mladenov, UN envoy to the Middle East, reported to the UN Security Council that Israel continues to ignore international calls to halt its settlement building on Palestinian lands. Israel responded in the way it typically does in the face of such pressure–by announcing more settlements. 463 to be exact.
The announcement came just two days after Mladenov’s presentation at the UN.
The US and the EU, in turn, responded the way they normally do when confronted with in-your-face Israeli arrogance: by issuing tepid little expressions of criticism. A US official expressed some mild disapproval, but did so only on condition of anonymity.
“We are deeply concerned by the government of Israel’s announcement today to advance plans for over 500 new settlement units in the West Bank,” said the unnamed official, quoted here. “This significant expansion of the settlement enterprise poses a very serious and growing threat to the viability of the two-state solution.”
“Deeply concerned,” mind you–ah, but not deeply concerned enough to do anything about it. Such as imposing sanctions, maybe.
Ma’an News has reported on the issue as well–in an article headlined, “EU Condemns Israel’s Approval of 463 Housing Units in Israeli Settlements Across West Bank.” Characterizing the EU’s response as “condemnation” is a wee bit of an overstatement on Ma’an’s part.
The only direct quotes in the article come from a canned statement issued by the Italian Foreign Minister expressing–are you ready for it?–“serious concern ” over the matter.
“Italy, in line with the European Union and the report of the Middle East Quartet, believes that the building and the expansion of settlements, as well as the demolition of Palestinian infrastructures in the occupied territories, represents one of the main threats to the achievement of a negotiated peace,” the statement said.
The wimpish Italians also chirped that the Zionist state’s decision to approve 463 new Jewish housing units “confirms a trend of settlement expansion that seriously undermines the prospect of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two State solution.”
Are the US and EU officials who issue these statements doing anything other than carrying out a charade? Do any of them have any realistic expectations Israel will ever change its behavior absent some form of international pressure–real pressure, and not just words?
The following was tweeted just a few hours ago:
These sorts of shootings occur in Palestine on an almost daily basis. Meanwhile settlement expansions continue with no sign of stopping. Why is it Western officials are powerless to do anything other than express their “concern”?