Netanyahu Claims He Wants to Make Peace

In recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been making audacious comments and statements regarding the status of the occupied West Bank, reflecting dangerous intentions on the part the Israeli government with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.

On 19 December 1997, Mr. Netanyahu stated that the occupied West Bank is "part of Israel proper". Such an illegal claim destroys the crux of the Middle East peace process and negates the mutual recognition between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Attempts were later made by aides of the Prime Minister to ameliorate the repercussions of such a statement and to back-pedal from this outrageous position, but they did not succeed in quelling the serious impact.

In the new year, Mr. Netanyahu continued to make reckless and dangerous comments, when on 8 January 1998 he said, "We cannot go back to a country that is ten or twelve kilometers wide." Moreover, he described the capture of the West Bank during the 1967 war as "the most important strategic development in the history of the Jewish State other than its inception."

Such statements, which clearly reflect the policies of the current Israeli government, are part of the persistent illegal claim by this Israeli government to parts of the occupied territory since 1967. They are a reflection of expansionist intentions, which essentially destroy the basis of the Middle East peace process.

On 24 December 1997 and 12 January 1998, respectively, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations sent letters to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the Security Council and the President of the General Assembly, bringing the above-mentioned statements to the attention of the international community. The letters emphasized that such incidents increase the urgency of the needed actions by the General Assembly to ensure that the participation of Israel in the work of the General Assembly is consistent with international legitimacy, including international law, provisions of the Charter of the U.N. and relevant U.N. resolutions.

For those who might still have some doubts about the real policies and intentions of the present Israeli government, even after Mr. Netanyahu’s statements, the government, on 8 January 1998, approved the construction of 574 new units to be added to the illegal settlements in the occupied territory. Moreover, on 10 January 1998, plans were revealed by the Israeli Housing Ministry for the construction of more than 30,000 additional units in the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. Yet, Mr. Netanyahu claims he wants to make peace!

This new wave of settler colonialism is a clear rejection of U.S. attempts to achieve a so-called "time out" in Israeli settlement activities. It, of course, violates international law, relevant Security Council resolutions and the existing agreements as well. Further, it reinforces the need for a serious response by the international community, specifically the speedy implementation of General Assembly resolution ES-10/4, particularly the convening of the meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to prepare for the Conference of States Parties on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.