Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, head of Democratic Front parliamentarian bloc, stated on Saturday that Israel is interested in destroying and eliminating the horizons of a permanent solution with the Palestinians, and is ongoing with its huge settlement expansion plans, especially in Jerusalem and around it.Baraka was commenting on the Israeli plan which aims at constructing more than 20.000 houses for settlers in the northern and southern part of the occupied East Jerusalem, especially on the lands of Al Walaja Palestinian village in the south, and Qalandia in the north.
Baraka was repeatedly interrupted by extreme right wing members of Knesset who welcomed the Israeli settlement projects and demanded further expansion plans. The members eventually left the Knesset session.
Moreover, Baraka added that the recent Israeli settlement plans aim at dividing the West Bank into two isolated parts in the north and the south, and isolating the Palestinians from Jerusalem, from the West Bank Plaines, and from all of the areas that extend to the Dead Sea and around it.
Baraka said that these projects are illegal in accordance to the international law, and violate the basic principles of human rights, and added that these projects are placing huge obstacles in front of any political solution based on establishing a viable independent Palestinian state living next to Israel.
In his speech, Baraka told Knesset members that these plans are increasing the tension, and are “planting the seeds of further conflicts since they are driven by schizophrenic right wing leaders and settlers”.
He also said that Israel initially planned to build 20.000 units in West Jerusalem outside of the 1967 borders, but several environmental groups in Israel objected and said that this project will eliminate huge green areas, therefore the Jerusalem municipality decided to implement the project in the Palestinian areas in East Jerusalem, and in the West Bank as a replacement to the initial project.
“It seems that that the battle is now on the environmental front as political powers who do not care about environment are planning to build houses for settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem”, Baraka said, “Israel wants to implement its aggressive policies against the Palestinians and their lands, and when the Israeli political powers want to chose between destroying the environment or destroying the Palestinians, they will prefer the second choice”.
Baraka also said that the Israeli government is a government of settlements, as well as the Jerusalem Municipality which supports all settlement projects and expansions in the Palestinian territories, and this contradicts with what some Israeli leaders utter about considering the Arab Peace Initiative as a base for negotiations.
Moreover, Baraka said that if Israel is really interested in peace and stability, it should cancel its settlement projects.