Israel is shutting down the Palestinian institutions

Palestinian youth confront Israeli forces

‘ISRAEL is attempting to erase Palestinian presence in Jerusalem by shutting more Palestinian institutions,’ Hanan Ashrawi, an Executive Committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has said – reacting to Israel’s closure of Palestine’s TV offices among others in the occupied city.

‘We strongly condemn Israel’s closure of several Palestinian institutions in occupied Jerusalem, including the Office of the Directorate of Education, Palestine TV offices, and the Al-Rasasi mosque,’ she said.

‘This is a continuation of the Israeli government’s campaign against everything Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem, and an attempt to alter the cultural and demographic composition of the City in violation of its previous commitment to guarantee preserving Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem as well,’ she said in her statement.

‘Israel is wilfully adopting measures to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem while targeting all aspects of Palestinian life there and throughout the rest of Occupied Palestinian Territory.

‘It has been enabled to commit such egregious violations, including arbitrary detention, home demolitions, direct and indirect transfer of Palestinians, revoking Jerusalem IDs, land grab, deliberate harassment and annexation due to the full support and collusion of the current US administration, and in the absence of accountability by the international community,’ she added.

‘We reiterate our call to all international bodies and states to take immediate and tangible steps to hold Israel accountable for its persistent crimes and violations. Without ensuring accountability, Israel will continue to act with impunity – as part of the rising extremist coalition that has adopted an agenda of unilateralism and lawlessness.

‘The Palestinian people’s cultural, historic, religious, and national roots are deeply rooted in Jerusalem. They will outlast and overcome these acts of pervasive oppression.’

cultural, historic, religious, and national roots are deeply rooted in Jerusalem. They will outlast and overcome these acts of pervasive oppression.’

In a move that directly challenges the peace process and negotiations between Palestinians and Israel, as well as pre-judging the outcome of any negotiations, the US administration – once considered a mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – decided it will no longer treat the Israeli settlements as illegal.

Last Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Jewish settlements in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank are not inconsistent with international law, despite the fact that they totally contradict United Nations resolutions on settlements, specifically Security Council resolution 2334 of 2016.

Since the announcement, many officials from Palestine, the Middle East and the world have expressed their complete condemnation and rejection of it, condemning the US decision as a ‘threat to the international system’, which undermines achieving a last and just peace in the region.

Immediately the announcement was made public, the Palestinian presidency called on world governments to reject and condemn it because it is illegal and a threat to international peace and security.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the US statement violates international law. Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the statement is null and void, stressing that the US administration is not qualified or authorised to cancel the resolutions of the international legitimacy, and does not have the right to give any legitimacy to the Israeli settlements.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), denounced the statements, stressing that the announcement threatens the international system.

Foreign Minister Riyad Malki condemned ‘the US recognition of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories’, describing it as ‘lawless’.

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said the US administration had proved itself a threat to international peace and security.

The European Union (EU) also reaffirmed its position on Israeli settlement policy, stressing that it ‘is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.’

In a statement, EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini called on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.

The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said that the announcement is another step taken by the Trump administration to thwart and bury the idea of a peace process, and further solidifying Israel as an apartheid state.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of the dangers of the change in the US position on the settlements, noting that it’s a ‘move that kills the two-state solution and undermines chances of achieving comprehensive peace.’

Reacting to the announcement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet that fait-accompli-style declarations shall have ‘no validity’.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the settlements issue is one of the major issues in negotiations between Palestine and Israel regarding the final status.

Also reacting to the US’ statement, the German Foreign Ministry released a statement on Israeli settlements that the German government reaffirms its position on Israeli settlement policy in the Occupied Territories, and that from the German government’s point of view, settlement building is contrary to international law, undermines the possibility of achieving the peace process and makes a negotiated two-state solution difficult to achieve.

Bahraini and Russian Foreign Ministries both declared their rejection of the announcement, calling the settlements ‘illegal’.

The Pakistani Ulema Council condemned the announcement, saying it had ‘crossed red lines’.

Additionally, international law experts agree that the US administration does not have the legal capacity to legalise settlements, and that the recent announcement by its secretary of state comes in response to the European Court of Justice’s decision both to ‘label’ settlement goods and to the international consensus to renew the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

International rights groups such as The Geneva-based Euromed Monitor, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), also denounced the move in separate statements respectively.

In the wake of it, the Palestinian government has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council, at the ministerial level, as soon as possible to discuss the announcement.