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A general view of the unauthorised Bruchin settlement in the West Bank Ariel Schalit/AP/Press Association Images

Gilmore condemns Israel for 'legalising' West Bank settlements

The Tánaiste has warned that the building of outposts and settlements will threaten the two-state solution and peace process.

TÁNAISTE AND MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has strongly condemned the Israeli government for ‘legalising’ three settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Adding his voice to international condemnation of the decision, Gilmore said the Israeli government has broken its own “repeated pledges”, giving rise to “serious doubt about the genuineness” of its commitment to a comprehensive peace with its neighbours.

Yesterday – a day ahead of its 64th anniversary of independence – the Israeli government also rolled back on its pledge to demolish an outpost built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

“This is a decision which is contrary to Israel’s clear obligations under the Road Map to remove all such illegal outposts,” Gilmore said in a critical statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs this afternoon. “It also does nothing to enhance the reputation for rule of law which has in the past been a great credit to Israel.”

The gravity of the situation is further impacted by the “relentless construction of settlements on the territory of the future Palestinian state”, he added.

I note that most of these outposts are in locations which cannot possibly be included in any territory swap that might be involved in an agreement. The continued survival of these settlements is effectively incompatible with a final peace in the region.

The international community considers any building by Israelis on the West Bank illegal. Gilmore concluded:

The peace process and the two-state solution, which alone provide the route to long-term peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, are gravely endangered by Israel’s continuing expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Ending the occupation, not deepening it, is what the Israeli Government should be doing at the present time.

The outposts in question – Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana – are home to about 830 people and are just three of about 100 unauthorised settlements in the West Bank.

Many see the existence of these illegal settlements as one of the main obstacles to a lasting and meaningful peace agreement.

Protests have also taken place in Nablus in the West Bank today as Palestinians call for the release of over 4,000 prisoners who are serving sentences in Israeli jails.

More: Palestinian PM pulls out planned meeting with Netanyahu>

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