Dr. Ashrawi on the approval of 2,500 illegal settlements units in the Occupied West Bank

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi strongly denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s approval of 2,500 illegal settlement units in the Occupied West Bank; this decision was made just two day after the Jerusalem Municipality Planning and Construction Committee approved the permits for more than 550 units in Occupied East Jerusalem:

 “Once again, the Israeli government has proved that it is more committed to land theft and colonialism than to the two-state solution and the requirements for peace and stability.  Such a deliberate escalation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise constitutes a war crime and the flagrant violation of international law and conventions, in particular UN Security Council resolution 2334. 

 It is evident that Israel is exploiting the inauguration of the new American administration to escalate its violations and the prevention of any existence of a Palestinian state. Therefore, we urge the US and the rest of the international community to undertake serious and concrete measures to bring about a full cessation of all settlement activities and to hold Israel to account for these disastrous plans with punitive measures and sanctions before it completes the destruction of the territorial and demographic contiguity of the West Bank.”


Over the past few weeks, the Israeli government has built momentum for further annexation of occupied Palestinian territory while rejecting international peace initiatives. Senior Israeli ministers have openly declared the election of Donald Trump as a strategic opportunity to advance right-wing extremist government goals: speed up settlement construction, annex occupied territory, and achieve U.S. recognition of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.

They have even made use of Republicans, such as Mike Huckabee, an advocate of annexing the West Bank who has visited settlements, to advance such goals and use the American legislative process as an extension of Israeli politics. More likely than not, the first day that President-elect Donald Trump takes office, the question of whether he will maintain the decades-long U.S. policy of keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv, and the positions of the international community at large, will be firmly placed on his desk for immediate action.

The principles of U.S. policy regarding Israeli settlements, including the annexation of East Jerusalem, have been consistently critical under previous administrations—Republican and Democrat alike. It was U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who rejected any official contacts with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) until it recognized the 1967 border. In 1988, the PLO made the painful compromise of recognizing Israel over 78 percent of historic Palestine, at the same time that it declared the State of Palestine (mostly unrecognized in the West) over 22 percent of our historic homeland and recognized all U.N. resolutions. This was the beginning of the official PLO-U.S. channel that would lead to the Madrid Peace Conference under President Bush.

The letter of invitation for the Madrid Conference, signed by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, clearly stated that the outcome of any negotiations would be to end the Israeli occupation. He stressed that the U.S. “does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundaries.” He also said that “the U.S. will continue to oppose settlement activity in the territories occupied in 1967, which remains an obstacle to peace.”

I was part of the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Conference at the time, while Benjamin Netanyahu acted as spokesperson of the Israeli delegation. The Israeli government only negotiated when President Bush threatened to cut the soft loans Washington grants Israel.  Secretary Baker went as far as reading the phone number of the White House, asking the Israelis to “call when you are serious.” Israel’s then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eventually went to Madrid, but announced what would become official Israeli practice regarding dragging out the peace process: “I would have conducted the autonomy negotiations for 10 years, and in the meantime we would have reached half a million souls in Judea and Samaria.” With Benjamin Netanyahu, the number of settlers has reached around 650,000 by the beginning of 2017.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, right-wing Israeli politician Naftali Bennett stated that, “on the one hand, [Israeli] prime ministers from left and right talk about founding a Palestinian state…on the other hand, the policies do not support that vision. I think that is what is frustrating the world.” He is right. During the eight years of the Obama administration, we were confronted with strong action by Washington in order to prevent Palestinians from taking our case to the international community.

“The Israelis want the two-state solution” we would hear from more than one interlocutor. But it was after locking Washington in for a $38 billion deal that the Israeli government pushed Washington aside, increased their settlement and house-destruction policies, and pushed for domestic legislation to facilitate settlement expansion. It was Netanyahu who left the U.S. administration no alternatives regarding the two-state solution.

Although President-elect Donald Trump, echoing the misguided sentiments of his new pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said that December’s U.N. resolution that condemned Israeli settlement building, and from which the U.S. abstained, was a “big loss for Israel” making it “much harder to negotiate peace,” that is not the opinion of those who genuinely want the two-state solution to succeed.

Let’s look at the facts. That resolution, UNSC Resolution 2334, doesn’t say anything new—on the contrary, it reiterates decades-long U.S. policy and international law. Perhaps this very critical point was lost during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on December 28. Further, the resolution does not question Israel’s legitimacy, rather it asks member states to distinguish between Israel and Israel’s illegal settlement regime that sits on occupied Palestinian land—land which was already compromised in 1948 and then further occupied in 1967. If this resolution makes anything harder, it is Israel justifying the legitimacy of its illegal settlement-industrial complex over 22 percent of historic Palestine.

As soon as he begins his presidency, President-elect Trump will be confronted with a series of Israeli policies and demands aimed at burying any hopes for a just and lasting peace in the region and the two-state solution, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. We can only hope that his presidency will support global peace and justice rather than further pandering to lobbyists intent on erasing half a century of established U.S. policy.



We welcome the statement by the Paris Middle East Peace Conference and call upon France to recognize the State of Palestine

Statement by PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat:

We welcome the statement by the Paris Middle East Peace Conference and call upon France to recognize the State of Palestine.


We welcome today’s Statement by the Paris Peace Conference, which stressed the need to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 as per international law and international legitimacy resolutions; including the recent Security Council Resolution 2334.

We appreciate the participation of each and every country and their commitment to the right of our people to establish our independent sovereign state to live side-by-side in peace and security alongside Israel.  They have again created a momentum in rejection to the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise on the land of Palestine. It’s a message to Israel, the occupying power, to abide by international law and international humanitarian law and to end its military occupation of Palestine towards the achievement of peace and stability in the region and the world. It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a country above the law and to hold it accountable for its systematic violations of international law and the rights of our people.

We call upon France to immediately recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We also call upon all participating countries in today’s conference, including European countries and the United States of America, which all have continuously supported the importance of the two-state solution as the only viable solution, to recognize Palestine in line with their recognition of Israel and their strong position to preserve the two-state solution.

The Resolution that Means Well for All in the Holy Land



The Palestinians have over the past decades made countless appeals to the UN and its Security Council to uphold its Charter duties, on the protection of civilians during the war and the inadmissibility of acquisition of land by force as stipulated in its resolution 242 of 1967 and others but all fell on deaf ears.

Israel, the occupying power, has never been confronted or indicted for any of its atrocities against the Palestinians under its occupation. In contrast, Israel, has continued to receive unconditional support from western democracies and been protected by the American veto power which had been exercised more than 40 times in favour of Israel. On the other hand, the Palestinians under occupation, have been requested by same democracies, all the time to forgo their internationally recognised right to resist their occupier and to cater for its safety and security.

This attitude has contributed tremendously to encouraging Israel to behave as a state above the International Law.

After 36 years of paralysis, the Security Council has on the 23 of December 2016, decided to finally take the side of its principles, by adopting a resolution number 2334, stating that settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under International Law,” and call on the International Community “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

In fact, this resolution has no tangible effect on the ground except bringing Israel down to earth to behave as a normal country and offer more breathing space for the Palestinians, after five decades of suffocation under the most immoral Israeli military occupation. However late, but still a responsible attempt by Obama’s administration to revive the path for peace and to preserve the two-States solution after has been nullified by Israeli officials that “the two-State solution is dead” and “there will be no Palestinian State”, coupled with steeling the land for settlement’s activities.

On too many occasions I warned against Netanyahu’s animosity to peace, which was clearly expressed in his book Place Under the Sun of 1993.

This animosity has also been expressed in Netanyahu’s latest hysterical reaction when on Christmas day, summoned envoys of the Security Council members for reprimand, coupled with his attack on his country’s strategic ally president Obama and his waged war against the UN and its organs, forgetting that his state, Israel was delivered from its womb in its resolution 181 of 1947.

Netanyahu however, failed to fool world leaders with his anti-peace tricks and allegations, yet he unfortunately succeeded locally in surging fear and racism amongst his Israeli society to guarantee his election for four times. In other words Netanyahu succeeded after 4 terms in office in making the only left enemy for Israel is Israel itself.

This resolution was a victory to all peace -loving peoples including Israelis who never accepted to surrender to Netanyahu’s lies and allegations.

On behalf of those Israelis and all Palestinians, I feel obliged to extend gratitude to all 15 Security Council members including America, because they have acted in line with the rest of the world’s nations on their constant calls to materialize the two states solution.

The Security Council by adopting the resolution 2334, does in fact mean well rather than ill to all the residents of the holy land, Jews, Christians and Muslims as it redirects the world’s compass towards ending the Israeli military occupation of the State of Palestine and establishing a long-term peace and stability in the middle east region and beyond.

What is now needed for the full realization of this resolution is for the American President elect, Trump, to take the side of the UN charter, which is to Dean Acheson (former secretary of State) a “condensed version of the American constitution”.

First appeared on 7.1.2017: https://www.publico.pt/2017/01/07/mundo/noticia/a-resolucao-que-significa-o-bem-para-todos-na-terra-santa-1757314

Congratulation Vote For the Approval of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) Condemning Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Territory

6 January 2017

The UN Security Council on approved 23 December a resolution on Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
In this Resolution, among other important aspects, the Security Council:

– Condemns all measures aimed at changing the demographic composition, character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, the construction and expansion of settlements, the transfer of Israeli settlers, the confiscation of land, the demolition of houses and the eviction of Palestinian civilians in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions;

– Reaffirms that Israel’s construction of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution;

– Reiterates its call for Israel to cease immediately and completely all settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem;

– Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential to save the two-state solution and calls for affirmative action to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground which are endangering the two-state solution;

– Calls on all States to distinguish, in their relevant relations, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.
The Assembly of the Republic, meeting in plenary on January 6, 2017:

– Welcomes the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) condemning the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory;

– Condemns the intention expressed by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the State of Israel will not abide by this United Nations Security Council Resolution;

– Reaffirms the position of the Portuguese State in favor of a two-state solution, with the creation of a free and independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders and with capital in East Jerusalem;

– Reaffirms the need to comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions on ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.