Denmark condemns new Israeli settlement plans

Denmark’s foreign minister has criticised a decision by Israel to start building a new settlement in East Jerusalem.

Villy Sovndal said plans to construct new homes in the Givat Hamatos district are “totally unacceptable”. The proposals, which will see 2,600 properties erected on nearly 385 hectares of land, will be the first large-scale Jewish settlement to be built in the occupied territories in 25 years.

“The Israeli decision last week to proceed with plans to build a new Jewish neighbourhood in the Palestinian part of Jerusalem is totally unacceptable,” Sovndal said in an official statement last week. “The same applies to the Israeli decision to make smaller settlements in the Palestinian West Bank legal under Israeli law. On the contrary, Israel is obliged to remove those settlements.”

He added that such a move could put an end to peace talks run jointly by Russia, the EU, the USA and the UN – a group known as the ‘Quartet’. “I am extremely concerned that the Quartet’s request to return to the negotiating table will be in vain when Israel makes such strong and detrimental decisions in direct conflict with the Quartet’s clear calls to refrain from provocative actions,” Sovndal said.

In addition to Sovndal’s statement, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said the proposals were “contrary to international law”, while the US state Department and several EU foreign ministries also joined the chorus of condemnation.

At the beginning of the month, Sovndal said Denmark would recognise Palestine as a state, but urged other EU nations to follow suit. “It doesn’t work having a people who aren’t recognised. Our position is that we want to recognise a Palestinian state. But Denmark isn’t going to take a go-it-alone approach,” he said, according to the Copenhagen Post.