PLO Executive Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Tuesday, strongly denounced Israel’s plan to expand three illegal Israeli settlements around the Jerusalem area, by building hundreds of residential units to accommodate more Israeli settlers.

She said, in a press release, “We strongly denounce plans by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to build 560 units in the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim and 240 units in the illegal settlements of Ramot, Gilo and Har Homa. “

Ashrawi said, according to WAFA, that the Israeli government is bent on destroying the viability, integrity and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital simply by isolating Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs and ethnically cleansing the occupied city of its indigenous population.

“Israel is going too far with the expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise and its blatant disregard for international law and conventions, standing UN resolutions and global consensus.  The continued theft of Palestinian land and the increase in settlements constitute serious and grave threats to security and stability within the region and beyond.”

Ashrawi deplored the announcement by Netanyahu and Lieberman to expand and intensify settlement activities in Hebron, including the approval of the construction of an additional 42 units in the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba.

Ashrawi further condemned the use of collective punishment against around 700,000 people in the Hebron area.  “Such critical Israeli escalation paints a grim picture and provokes further anger, violence and extremism,” she added.

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The expansion plans come two days following the release of the Middle East Quartet’s report, which flagrantly accommodates Israel’s demands and violations, equates a vulnerable people under a brutal military occupation with a ruthless occupier and falls below the minimum requirements for peace, said Ashrawi.

“We call on all members of the international community to uphold their moral, legal and political responsibilities and to hold Israel to account for its blatant violations of international law and consensus.”

“The chances for the two-state solution are rapidly disappearing; if Israel is not stopped, extremism and violence will prevail,” she concluded.

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