Construction of a new Israeli settlement east of Jerusalem would cross a "red line" for Palestine, its chief U.S. diplomat said Friday, sending a signal that it would result in "grave consequences."
Israel declared its intention to build a settlement, dubbed E1, between Jerusalem and the Ma'ale Adumim settlement following an overwhelmingly one-sided vote in the U.N. to upgrade Palestine to non-member observer "state" status.
The Palestine Liberation Organization's representative to the U.S. says Israel's aim is not to build a settlement, but to unilaterally destroy Palestine's hopes of a two-state solution.
"E1 is a red line," said Chief Representative Maen Rashid Areikat Friday while speaking at a meeting with reporters. "If Israel embarks on that, it will be sending not a clear signal, but a final signal to us that there will be no Palestinian state."
Palestine would not endorse a violent response, he adds.
"Under no circumstances will the PLO or the current Palestinian leadership advocate violent or arms struggle. Period," says Areikat. "This is not an option. We know we come under attack from many for this position, but we are not going to change that position because it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people."
The Palestinian government would turn to "whatever is available to us, legally, diplomatically, politically," he says.
"We are going to resort to whatever venues are available to us in order to ensure Israel does not kill our dream, kill our hope and keep us under their military occupation forever," Areikat says.
Israel says E1 serves to ensure the Ma'ale Adumim cannot be cut off from Jerusalem, which Palestine hopes to make the capital of a future state. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren indicated on Tuesday this move was also in response to Palestine's "unilateral actions in the U.N." He said the settlement, less than 2 miles long in a "barren desert," could be easily bypassed with a bridge or tunnel.
"This is an arrogant statement," Areikat says. "It's a reflection of the Israeli arrogant mentality, because they know they are controlling the land, controlling the people. They are defying the international community, they are violating international law."
Areikat called on the U.S. and Europe to label the E1 settlement as illegal and, if Israel moves forward with construction, to discourage their citizens from investing in it.
The United Kingdom previously cautioned against investment in Israeli settlements, saying Israel may not always control that land, Areikat says, adding that Denmark also indicated E1 would be illegal.
Nine countries voted against upgrading Palestine's status at the U.N. in late November, including the U.S. and Israel. Forty-one abstained and 138 voted in support.
"We are different today than we were two weeks ago," Areikat says. "What we saw two weeks ago should be taken seriously by the Israelis."
- Fight Over FISA Brewing in Senate
- Hagel Emerging as Likely Defense Nominee
- Hatch: Mormons Are Christians, Too
Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.