Abbas: Israel's Settlement Plans in Area E-1 Are a 'Red Line'

Palestinians contact UN chief to sound out possibilities for Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement expansion.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he is determined to block the settlement building near Jerusalem with all legal and diplomatic means.

"The settlement plans that Israel announced, especially E-1, are a red line," Abbas told reporters, adding that "this must not happen. "The Palestinian representative to the UN has contacted the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, and the head of the Security Council to sound out the possibilities for a council resolution against settlements," Abbas said.

Israel is moving ahead with its plans to build 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as future plans to build in the contested E-1 corridor, which links Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. This despite mounting international condemnation of its settlement plans, some of them activated last week in retaliation for the UN General Assembly's acceptance of a state of Palestine as a non-member observer.

Nearly two years ago, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning settlements as illegal, while the 14 other members supported the draft.

Shielding its closest ally, the U.S. said at the time that while it considers settlements illegitimate, it believes council censure would harm peace efforts.

It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. would use its veto this time around. Although the U.S. has traditionally protected Israel from UN criticism, American officials have harshly condemned Israel's decision to revive the E-1 development plan and would not want to be seen as giving it tacit backing.

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said that if the U.S. wants to avoid Security Council action, it should pressure Israel to abort its construction plans for the Jerusalem area.

"If the U.S. can stop the Israelis without the Security Council, they should do it," he said. "They (the Americans) cannot stop us and use the veto against people trying to save the peace process."

If the settlements are built, "the idea of peace, the idea of a two-state solution, will disappear," he said.

Israel and European states have been embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis since the plans were announced.

Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to express their condemnation of Netanyahu's decision, and on Tuesday, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Finland and Egypt followed suit. On Wednesday, Italy and the European Union also summoned the Israeli ambassadors. Russia also issued a statement on Monday urging Israel to refrain from expanding settlements. 

Haaretz reported on Monday that both Britain and France were poised to take action over the matter − possibly including the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors, according to senior European diplomats.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday that European sanctions against Israel in response to its latest plans to build more settlements on disputed land were not an option, but said further steps would need to be considered if the expansion plans were not rescinded.