Concerns are growing over an Israeli government plan for settlement expnasion in the strategic area of E2 south of Bethlehem. Such a move would put the viability of the two-state solution at grave risk, and threaten the long-term security of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Julie has submited a parliamentary question in order to flag the issue to the EU's External Action Service (EEAS).
Several Israeli and Palestinian human rights NGOs raised the the case. The plan to appropriate private Palestinian land in the area, and handing it over to the settlement of Efrat for expansion, are being reviewed by the Israeli Supreme Court. If the plan goes through, the expansion westward, could cut off Bethlehem and adjacent Palestinian villages. If the West bank is bisected in this way, the territorial integrity of any future Palestinian state would be difficult to establish.
Julie tabled the question together with fellow concerned MEPs.
"It has been reported that the Israeli Ministry of Housing has begun planning a large-scale expansion of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, south of Bethlehem, in an area designated as ‘E2’. The plan would almost double the geographic size of the settlement, and potentially add thousands of housing units. This move would involve appropriation of private Palestinian land, block off any expansion of nearby Palestinian villages, and seal off Bethlehem to the south.
The expansion would bisect the southern West Bank, potentially connecting the Israeli settlements of Efrat, Tekoa, and Nokdim. This would make a territorially contiguous and viable Palestinian state impossible. As such, settlement expansion into E2 would not only be a violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, but would also represent a grave threat to the two-state solution. This would be a serious threat to the long-term security of both Palestine and Israel.
In view of the EU’s commitment to the preservation of the two-state solution, peace, and compliance with international law, as well as the European funds invested in that solution:
What efforts have been and will be deployed by Member States to prevent settlement construction in E2, including in the framework of the EU-Israel structured dialogue?
Why has this not yet been raised in the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process?"