The Palestinian Authority boycotted a planned economic meeting with Israel over a pair of controversial measures by the occupying regime that ease illegal settlement construction activities in the West Bank.
In a tweet on Sunday, Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh canceled Monday’s meeting of the Joint Economic Committee that was expected to bring together Israeli and Palestinian officials, presstv reported.
After Israel’s decision to “accelerate the stages of settlement growth in the West Bank, and to authorize its minister of finance, Smotrich, to ratify this, we decided to boycott the meeting of the Higher Economic Committee between the two parties”, he wrote.
He added that they will “study” other measures and decisions to implement regarding their relationship with Israel.
The announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet passed a resolution that gives practically all control over planning approval for construction in the West Bank settlements to far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Under the resolution, which changed a system that has been in effect for the last 27 years, the numerous stages of authorization needed for Palestinian land theft will be reduced to just one required approval.
Also on Sunday, Smotrich himself said that the Higher Planning Committee of the Civil Administration, under his authority, is set to hold deliberations next week on the approval of 4,560 new settler units in the West Bank.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warned that Tel Aviv’s behavior will fuel tensions.
Israel is playing with fire, whether in the Al-Quds file or the settlement file, which are all considered the Palestinian, Arab and international red lines, he said.
Abu Rudeineh further held the US administration responsible for Israel’s actions, saying the regime “cannot build a single stone without an American decision”.
“Settlements in the West Bank will all be dismantled, just as they were dismantled in the Gaza Strip, because they are illegal, and are built in violation of international laws,” he added.
On Sunday, Washington issued a statement expressing concern over Israel’s latest move to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank.
State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement that the US is “deeply troubled” by Israel’s plans “to advance over 4,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and the changes to its planning system that may expedite approvals”.
“As has been longstanding policy, the US opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli settlement projects as a “flagrant violation of international law”.
A spokesman for the ministry urged the international community to “take immediate action to stop unilateral Israeli measures” that are impeding the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In late March, a report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said 700,000 Israelis are living in 279 settlements across the occupied West Bank, including 14 settlements in occupied East Al-Quds.
The international community regards the settlements – hundreds of which have been built across the West Bank since Tel Aviv’s occupation of the territory in 1967 – as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions given that they have been constructed on the occupied territories.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.