Saudi Arabia expresses grave concern over Israel’s decision to build more settlements

Saudi Arabia expresses grave concern over the Israeli decision to build settlements near East Jerusalem. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Arabia has expressed serious concern over the Israeli decision to build hundreds of new settlements near East Jerusalem.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Saudi Arabia’s grave concern over the decision of the Israeli authorities to issue bids for the construction of 1,257 new settlement units near East Jerusalem.

The Saudi reaction came after Israel moved ahead on Sunday with plans laid out in February to build 1,257 housing units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos.

The Israel Lands Authority opened construction tenders for contractors, Reuters reported on Monday; in a move that has elicited criticism from the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, and the United Nations.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that settlements were illegal under international law and was part of Israel’s efforts “to kill the internationally-backed two-state solution,” according to the report.

“This is a key location between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Any settlement construction will cause serious damage to the prospects for a viable and contiguous Palestinian State;” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also said in a statement.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, also slammed the Israeli move. “If built, (these housing units) would further consolidate a ring of settlements; between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank,” he also said.