Israeli Minister of Economy and head of the Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett, denounced statements by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, which criticized Israel’s settlement construction and expansion activities.On his Facebook page, Bennett said that Israel’s construction and expansion of Jewish settlements “is not a boom in construction, it’s just Zionism,” the Ma’an News Agency said.
Bennett added that Israel will never apologize for building and expanding Jewish settlements, and will always keep building settlements everywhere in the country.
“Some people describe the construction as a boom in settlement activities, and I am telling them we will continue to build in the capital of our Jewish homeland,” he said. “Some tried to prevent us from living in our capital, but Zionism will continue to build, nobody will ever be able to stop us.”
It is worth mentioning that Kerry denounced, Tuesday, the Israeli approval of a plan to build hundreds of units for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, and said that this approval “derailed peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians.
The United States is “mediating” trembling peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians; the nine-month direct talks will end on April 29, but Kerry is trying to extend the talks beyond that date.
Kerry blamed both Israel and the Palestinians for the current stalemate in direct talks, and told American lawmakers that the release of veteran detainees, as a planned move of good faith, was sabotaged by Israel’s decision to build more settlements.
He told the Foreign Relations Committee that Israel’s announcement to build 700 units of Jewish settlements, in occupied Jerusalem, sabotaged talks “as when this decision was made, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were likely about to achieve a progress in direct talks.”
The American official added that the United States is trying to prevent the collapse of direct talks, and is “fighting against all odds to ensure direct talks continue until the end of this year”.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, stated in a tweet that Kerry’s statements were clear, and that he did not engage in a blame game, but that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority made unhelpful steps.
She added that Kerry even showed great appreciation for what she described as “courageous decisions made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu throughout peace talks.
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain said Kerry insists that the peace process is still ongoing between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that Kerry needs to face reality and recognize the fact that the peace process has stopped.
However, Kerry said he hopes Israel and the Palestinians will find a way to resume direct talks, and that the United States will work with them to reach that goal. He also claimed direct talks managed to narrow some of the difference, but did not elaborate on the issue.
A senior Palestinian source said that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met US envoy Martin Indyk on Monday, and will be meeting him again Wednesday.
On the ground, Israel continues its invasions and violations against the Palestinians, their lands and property, and insists on what it calls “its right” to build and expand its illegitimate settlements in occupied Palestine.
Palestinians lost more than 78% of the historic land of Palestine when Israel was created in 1948; following its occupation to the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem), consecutive Israeli governments kept building and expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, in direct violation of International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel is refusing to grant the Palestinians control on their border terminals in the occupied West Bank, and insists on keeping its control of natural resources, fertile areas — especially in the Jordan Valley — and continues to illegally confiscate large areas of Palestinian lands so that it can build and expand its illegitimate settlements.
The illegitimate Annexation Wall also led to the illegal annexation of Palestinian lands, deprived Palestinian villagers access to their orchards and farmlands, and is turning the occupied territories into isolated and surrounded cantons.
In a report published on April 1, 2014, the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has reported that Israeli soldiers have killed twelve Palestinians since the beginning of this year, kidnapped 364 in March, and 1,059 since January first.