Ireland tells Israel it’s ‘seriously concerned’ by Givat Hamatos project

“I call upon the Israeli government to reverse this decision and to halt all settlement construction,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.


Irish Foreign Ministry officials met with the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, to express their “serious concern” over Israel’s publication this week of a tender to build 1,257 Jewish homes in east Jerusalem.

“I call upon the Israeli government to reverse this decision and to halt all settlement construction,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said in a sharply worded statement published on Monday.

The European Union has already condemned the project. At least five individual EU countries plus Norway have also expressed their displeasure. Aside from Ireland these include France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

“Senior officials in my department met the Israeli ambassador today to underline Ireland’s serious concerns at the expansion of settlements in this strategically sensitive area between Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” Coveney said.

Both Israel and the Palestinians hold that the Givat Hamatos project is strategically significant to its future designs on the city. The government and the Israeli Right believes that Jewish building on the hilltop shores up a united Jerusalem and prevents any redivision of the capital city along the pre-1967 lines.

Palestinians are concerned that the project, located on the edge of Jerusalem, would sever Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem from the West Bank, including nearby Bethlehem, thereby preventing a contiguous link between the two territories in any future Palestinian state.

“This announcement by Israel undermines the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state and the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with the internationally agreed parameters with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states,” Coveney said.

Italy said that such projects were “a serious obstacle to the achievement of a just, sustainable and directly negotiated two-state solution between the two parties.”

France said it was a “direct challenge to the viability of a future Palestinian state.”

The final date to submit bids for the project is January 18, 2021, two days before US President Donald Trump is scheduled to leave office. Trump’s peace plan recognized that the area of Givat Hamatos would be part of Israel’s final sovereign border in any two-state resolution to the conflict.

US President-elect Joe Biden, on the other hand, is expected to hold that the area of Givat Hamatos should be part of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu and Biden held their first phone call since the US election on Monday night. Givat Hamatos was not mentioned in the public statements either country made with regard to the phone call.

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