Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to call in Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, HE Mr Yuval Rotem, to convey the Australian Government’s grave concern at reports of Israeli decisions to build 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to unfreeze planning in the area known as E1 and to withhold tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority.
“These actions enormously complicate the prospects for resuming negotiations between the two sides,” Senator Carr said.
Speaking from Papua New Guinea, Senator Carr said the Australian Government had made clear its call to all sides not to exploit or overreact to last week’s vote in the United Nations General Assembly granting non-member observer state status to the Palestinian Authority.
“I am extremely disappointed with these reported Israeli decisions.
“Australia has long opposed all settlement activity.
“Such activity threatens the viability of a two-state solution without which there will never be security in Israel.
“Israel’s reported decision to unfreeze planning of the area known as E1 is especially counter-productive.
“Australia has also conveyed these concerns to the Israeli authorities in Jerusalem.
“The Australian Government urges both sides to return urgently to the negotiation table in good faith,” Senator Carr said.
The meeting between DFAT officials and Ambassador Rotem took place at 2:00pm yesterday in Canberra.