In an interview he gave to the Guardian newspaper on Thursday, the British Foreign Minister Jack Straw criticized Israel’s plans of building 1000 more settlers housing units in the West Bank.
‘The latest announcement about settlements, in my judgement, is very serious because it could lead to the encirclement of East Jerusalem and the detachment of East Jerusalem from the West Bank,’ Straw said and added ‘It is outside the road map,’ refering to the US-backed internationally brokered peace plan for the middle east conflict.
Straw regarded such expansion of settlements as an obsticle in the way of reaching a two states solution.
‘The thing I remain very concerned about is the way in which facts on the ground are being developed which undermine the two-state solution to which the international community is committed, a secure state of Israel and a viable state of Palestine.’ Straw said.
Israel is planning to expropriate some 31,000 dunams (8,000 Acres) of land to expand Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley.
Israeli Agriculture Minister Israel Katz who revealed this information, said he intended to implement the plan ‘without unnecessary delays.’, confirming that he would soon bring it before the ministerial committee on for the development of rural settlement.
The expansion is planned to include 3,200 dunams of land now occupied by the army and 28,000 dunams of grazing land.
Katz explicitly explained that the goal is ‘to hold [the land] and designate it for Jewish settlements in the valley and to prevent the possibility of their being taken over by hostile elements.’
Katz move points to Israeli plans to dictate unilaterally the future of the West bank parallel to the intended Gaza Strip pullout, turning the disengagement plan into a process to unilaterally define the future of the Palestinian territories.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked Monday his ministers to undermine any discussion on the road map and emphasis the need for disengagement, considering the later as the only standing political initiative.