Qatar’s premier says Arab states will give an appropriate response to Israel’s decision to expand its settlements in the occupied West Bank.
"There will be a meeting today (Wednesday) between the representatives of Arab states and [Arab League chief] Amr Mussa," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters in Doha.
"There will be a clear decision in response to this Israeli act. We had already had doubts about Israel’s seriousness in the peace process, but we had given peace talks an opportunity through our decision," he added.
Israel announced plans on Tuesday to construct 1,600 Jewish homes in disputed East Jerusalem (al-Quds).
The move has angered Palestinians and Arab foreign ministers who reached an agreement last week to support a US proposal for indirect Middle East peace negotiations with Israel. The decision, however, was made in spite of their qualms about Tel Aviv’s sincerity to breathe life into efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
The Israeli plan to build apartments in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), where Palestinians hope to set up the capital of their future state, as well as the occupied West Bank territories have undermined efforts to jump-start the stalled Middle East peace process.
Tel Aviv is currently under intense pressure from the international community to halt the construction of illegal settlements, which are considered the main obstacle in the way of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in the West Bank.
Under the 2002 Roadmap for Peace plan brokered by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, Israel has to ‘dismantle settlement outposts erected since 2001 and freeze all settlement activities.’
There are currently 121 Israeli settlements and 102 Israeli outposts built on Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967.
These settlements and outposts are inhabited by a population of approximately 462,000 Israeli settlers. Some 191,000 Israelis are living in settlements around Jerusalem (al-Quds) and an additional 271,400 are spread throughout the West Bank.