Australia, Brazil Summon Israeli Ambassadors Over Settlement Construction

Australia and Brazil join European countries in condemning Israel's decision to expand Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and withhold tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Australia and Brazil followed European countries on Tuesday and summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their respective capitals to protest Israel's plans for settlement expansion in the E-1 area, between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

"Australia has long opposed all settlement activity," Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement after Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem's meeting with senior Australian officials. "Such activity threatens the viability of a two-state solution without which there will never be security in Israel."

"I am extremely disappointed with these reported Israeli decisions," he said.

The Israeli ambassador in Brazil has also been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Brazil. During the talk, senior officials in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry emphasized their opposition to Israel's plan to build settlements in area E-1 and to the other retaliatory steps Israel has taken against the PA following the UN bid.

Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries on Monday to express their condemnation of Netanyahu's decision as well. Not only do Britain and France view construction in E-1 as a "red line," they are reportedly angry because they view Israel as having responded ungratefully to the support the two countries had during the recent Gaza operation.

Russia has also issued a statement on Monday urging Israel to refrain from expanding settlements.

The Dutch ambassador, whose country abstained in Thursday’s UN vote on Palestinian nonmember state status, told Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that if the E-1 construction went forward, his country could not support Israel in future UN votes. The German deputy ambassador conveyed a similar message.

The European Union is putting heavy pressure on Israel to retract its decision to move ahead on construction in E-1.

Netanyahu spoke out harshly against the PA at Sunday's cabinet meeting, claiming it "was waging a struggle against the very existence of the State of Israel."

The cabinet voted unanimously Sunday to reject the UN General Assembly resolution recognizing Palestine as a nonmember observer state. At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu compared last week's UN resolution with that body's 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.

Netanyahu read out a cabinet decision in response to the 1975 resolution in which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Israel would expedite construction in the settlements in response to the resolution.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference, Nov. 22, 2012. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
A camel grazing on a hill in the E-1 area overlooking the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.Credit: Reuters



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