French President Francois Holland on Monday called on Israel to end all settlement construction in the Occupied Territories, saying it endangers a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“For the sake of peace and to reach a deal, France calls for the total and definitive end to settlement building because it compromises the two-state solution,” Hollande said at a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Jerusalem Post. Hollande repeated his call in a speech before Israel’s Knesset the same day. “Settlements in the West Bank must stop,” the French president said, according to Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid. “[T]hey are hampering the creation of a Palestinian state.”
HIs comments come just one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Hollande for France’s reported role in delaying a potential deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Your support and your friendship is real. It’s sincere. You were one out of six,” Netanyahu told Hollande on Sunday, referring to the six world powers participating in negotiations with Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry — who was instrumental in getting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks restarted — surprised many earlier this month when he was particularly blunt with Netanyahu about the peace process. “[I]f we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of de-legitimization of Israel that’s been taking place on an international basis,” Kerry said in a television interview, later directly addressing the settlement issue with a dire warning:
“If we don’t resolve the question of settlements and the question of who lives where and how and what rights they have, if we don’t end the presence of Israeli soldiers perpetually within the West Bank, then there will be an increasing feeling that if we cannot get peace with a leadership that is committed to nonviolence, you may wind up with leadership that is committed to violence.”
Netanyahu announced last week that he blocked a new plan to explore the construction of thousands of new homes in West Bank settlements, saying it had created an “unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements in the international community to reach a better deal with Iran.”
Meanwhile, a new report released this month by Peace Now and Americans for Peace Now found that between March and November of this year, “there has been a non-stop settlements construction and approval boom.”
“These facts once again raise the very serious question about the motivations and intentions of Prime Minister Netanyahu with respect to peace, negotiations, and the two-state solution,” the report says.