Secret British document accuses Israel
- FO paper says international laws are being violated and peace jeopardised
Secret British document accuses Israel
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Friday November 25, 2005
A confidential Foreign Office document accuses Israel of rushing to
annex the Arab area of Jerusalem, using illegal Jewish settlement
construction and the vast West Bank barrier, in a move to prevent it
becoming a Palestinian capital.
In an unusually frank insight into British assessments of Israeli
intentions, the document says that Ariel Sharon's government is
jeopardising the prospect of a peace agreement by trying to put the
future of Arab East Jerusalem beyond negotiation and risks driving
Palestinians living in the city into radical groups. The document,
obtained by the Guardian, was presented to an EU council of ministers
meeting chaired by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on Monday with
recommendations to counter the Israeli policy, including recognition
of Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem.
But the council put the issue on hold until next month under pressure
from Italy, according to sources, which Israel considers its most
reliable EU ally.
Israel has described a recommendation for moving EU meetings with the
Palestinian Authority from Ramallah to East Jerusalem in recognition
of the Arab claim as "negative occurrence". It claims the eastern part
of Jerusalem it occupied in the 1967 war is part of its "indivisible
capital". Almost all governments maintain embassies in Tel Aviv
because they do not recognise the Israeli claim.
The document, drawn up by the British consulate in East Jerusalem as
part of the UK's presidency of the EU, says Israeli policies are
designed to prevent Jerusalem from becoming a Palestinian capital,
particularly settlement expansion in and around the city. It says Mr
Sharon's plan to link Jerusalem with the large Ma'ale Adumim
settlement in the West Bank by building thousands of new homes
"threatens to complete the encircling of the city by Jewish
settlements, dividing the West Bank into two separate geographical
It adds: "Israeli activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both its
Roadmap (peace plan) obligations and international law."
The Foreign Office also concludes that the vast concrete barrier,
which Israel asserts is a security measure, is being used to
expropriate Arab land in and around the city. "This de facto
annexation of Palestinian land will be irreversible without very
large-scale forced evacuations of settlers and the re-routing of the
The document says stringent Israeli controls on the movement of
Palestinians in and out of the city are an attempt to restrict Arab
population growth. "When the barrier is completed, Israel will control
all access to East Jerusalem, cutting off its Palestinian satellite
cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, and the West Bank beyond. This will
have serious ... consequences for the Palestinians," it says.
"Israel's main motivation is almost certainly demographic ... the
Jerusalem master plan has an explicit goal to keep the proportion of
Palestinian Jerusalemites at no more than 30% of the total." All of
this, the document says, greatly reduces the prospects of a two-state
solution because a core demand of the Palestinians is for sovereignty
over the east of the city.
"Palestinians are deeply alarmed about East Jerusalem," the document
says. "They fear that Israel will 'get away with it', under the cover
of disengagement. Israeli measures also risk radicalising the hitherto
relatively quiescent Palestinian population of East Jerusalem."
The Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said: "Israel
believes that Jerusalem should remain the united capital of Israel. At
the same time Israel has committed itself that Jerusalem is one of
those final status issues."
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