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Tánaiste condemns new Israeli settlement announcement

I am deeply disturbed by the recent Israeli announcement of approval for the construction of a new settlement at Givat Hamatos (between Jerusalem and Bethlehem).    At a time when international efforts are focussed on trying to restart peace talks, and the Quartet has specifically called for a halt to provocative actions, Israel has made a series of announcements of settlement construction in sensitive areas.

The effect of these decisions is to undermine international efforts to secure the resumption of negotiations.    Settlements are illegal under international law.   They are also a major factor blocking the prospects for a negotiated peace based on a two-state solution, an outcome which is in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.  

I am also concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has established a taskforce to examine means to legalise settlement outposts which have been constructed on Palestinian land.   These are outposts which are illegal under Israeli law and which Israel has many times pledged to remove (as it is required to do under the 2004 “Road Map”).   

The Quartet statement of 23 September called for restraint and the avoidance of provocative actions.   I ask the Israeli Government to act in accordance with its responsibilities and to rescind decisions which are so clearly harmful in terms of getting resumed peace talks underway.