Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Israeli settlement in West Bank

Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Israeli settlement in West Bank
Israel advanced plans to build 800 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a move that could strain ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. (File/AP)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Israeli settlement in West Bank

Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Israeli settlement in West Bank
  • Kingdom says the move is a threat to peace, undermines efforts for a two-state solution
  • France also says it condemns Netanyahu's plan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday “strongly condemned” Israel’s decision to establish 800 settlement units in the West Bank, Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The ministry renewed its categorical rejection of this move as a new violation of decisions of international legitimacy, a threat to peace and undermines the efforts for a two-state solution,” the statement added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered construction plans advanced on Monday for some 800 Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank, anchoring the projects in the final days of the pro-settlement Trump administration.
Palestinians condemned such construction as illegal and most countries view Israeli settlements as violating international law.
An announcement by Netanyahu’s office said the homes would be built in the settlements of Beit El and Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem, and in Tal Menashe, Rehelim, Shavei Shomron, Barkan and Karnei Shomron in the northern West Bank. It gave no starting date for construction.
Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, all land captured by Israel in a 1967 war.
“It is an attempt to race against time and benefit from the last days of the current US administration,” Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters.
The Trump administration has effectively backed Israel’s right to build West Bank settlements by abandoning a long-held US position that they break international law.
Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said Netanyahu wants the settlement move “to be set in stone before the Biden administration comes into office, and maybe changes Israeli-American tacit understandings on settlements that existed under Trump.”
Netanyahu also wants to tell voters he is “the only leader who can stand up to Biden and make sure he doesn’t dictate our policy in the (Palestinian) territories,” Talshir said.
Most countries view Israeli settlements as violating international law. More than 440,000 Israeli settlers now live among 3 million Palestinians who have limited self-rule under Israeli occupation.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said all settlements are illegal and in violation of the international law and UN’s Security Council resolutions.
He said there will no security or stability in the region without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also expressed its concern over the announcement. It said such measures only undermine the chances for a two-state solution.
The EU also renewed its opposition to the Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Settlement activities are in violation of the international law and undermine the peace process,” said a spokesman for the European External Action Service in Brussels.
France on Tuesday also condemned Israel’s move, and in a statement the Foreign Ministry urged Israeli authorities to drop the plan.
Referring to Israel and the Palestinians, who seek a state in Israeli-occupied territory, it said: “(We) call on the parties to avoid any unilateral measures that could jeopardize the two-state solution founded on international law and agreed parameters.”


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Iraqi president discuss cooperation

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Iraqi president discuss cooperation
Updated 47 min 51 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Iraqi president discuss cooperation

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Iraqi president discuss cooperation
  • They discussed relations and ways of enhancing them in all fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from Iraqi President Barham Salih, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
During the call, they reviewed relations between the two countries, in addition to discussing ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the interests of the two countries in various fields, within the framework of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq opened the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time in three decades in November last year. The crossing had been closed since 1990 after the two countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Also in November, a Saudi delegation led by the Kingdom’s commerce and industry and agricultural ministers visited Baghdad as part of the framework of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council and the Economic, Trade, Investment, Development and Joint Relief Committee.
A Saudi-Iraqi businessmen forum was also launched on the side-lines of the visit, under the auspices of the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. 
The Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement extends back to 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad following a 25-year break.
In July Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed investment agreements on energy and sports.