PNI Secretary General Mustafa Barghouthi MP said today that negotiations with Israel are meaningless until it meets basic conditions that reflect a genuine commitment towards peace.
The MP made the statement at a press conference held in Ramallah today, one day after Israel announced that it was planning to build a further 1,900 settlement housing units in addition to a staggering 9,432 settlement housing units that have been approved since the Annapolis meeting on 27 November 2007.
"Israel claimed at Annapolis that it wanted peace, and yet settlements are now growing 20 times faster than they were before Annapolis. In the meantime, it continues constructing its Apartheid Wall. There is simply no explanation for this other than that Israel is using the peace process as a guise to further its expansionist project, through which it intends to leave Palestinians with just half of the West Bank on which to form a Bantustan, ghetto state," said Dr. Barghouthi.
He also referred to the Israeli government’s duplicitous claims that it will "ease the suffering of the Palestinian people" by removing 50 checkpoints following a promise made to Condoleeza Rice on 30 March. He underlined that the number of checkpoints since Annapolis had increased from 521 to 580, making a mockery of the move. He cited the case of Bala’ village in the Tulkarem district, where Israel erected a checkpoint on 31 March, and removed it the same day after having invited media representatives to witness the event.
Following on from a World Health Organisation report issued on 1 April that described the deaths of Gazan patients denied exit from the Strip to receive life-saving medical treatment abroad as "tragedies that could and should have been avoided," Dr. Barghouthi reported that 121 Gazan patients have died in such circumstances since June 2007. He referred to the case of 1-year-old Bayyan Abu Hilu, who died of liver disease on 2 March after being denied exit from the Strip for ’security reasons.’
"The Israeli government is reaching new depths in its quest to kill off any possibility of an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state. It steps up settlement expansion to place an irreversible claim on Palestinian land before any final agreement is reached; it invents checkpoints and removes them the same day as proof of its ’goodwill’; and it lets a 1-year-old child die because she had the misfortune of being a sick Palestinian from Gaza," said Dr. Barghouthi.
"This policy will have drastic impacts on the futures of both Israelis and Palestinians," he concluded.