On Tuesday the Israeli government announced that they plan to build 1,100 housing units in Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood located in East Jerusalem. Despite outrage by the Palestinian people and disapproval by the United States Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained firm in his decision to continue the housing settlement construction.
Israel’s announcement comes at a very delicate time. After decades of failed diplomatic talks with the Israeli government, the Palestinian government has grown tired of peace talks with no results, in particular their desire for the establishment of an official Palestinian state. Last week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for membership in the United Nations as a full member state. President Obama has stated that the United States will veto the Palestinian request for statehood recognition until peace talks with Israel have been accomplished. Since the United States is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations their veto is necessary for the Palestinian government to achieve full member status.
The Quartet of Israeli-Palestinian mediators, which consists of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia are set to resume peace talks in hopes of establishing a settlement agreement before the end of next year. However, the Palestinian government has refused to engage in any peace talks until the Israeli government ceases its plans of building 1,100 housing units. Members of the Quartet refer back to the 2003 road map for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, which states that the Palestinians will stop violent actions towards Israel and the Israelis will place a freeze on all settlement expansions.
The Quartet mediators have asked both parties to “refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective.” The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton believes the Israeli government should reverse their decision for settlement expansion, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton believes Israel’s decisions is “counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties.”