EU calls on Israel to backtrack on new settlements

STRASBOURG — The European Union’s chief diplomat lamented on Tuesday Israel’s approval of 1,100 homes for settlers in east Jerusalem and urged the government to reverse its decision.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 29 Sep 2011, 1:20 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:05 AM

“It is with deep regret that I learned today about the decision to advance in the plans for settlement expansion in east Jerusalem, with new housing units in Gilo,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

“This plan should be reversed. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and runs contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations,” she told the European parliament.

Ashton said she would continue to “make it clear” in future meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the EU considers settlement activity illegal under international law.

“He should stop announcing them and, more importantly, stop building them,” she said.

She recalled that the Middle East Quartet of peace negotiators — the EU, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — have pleaded with Israelis and Palestinians to “refrain from provocative actions” if talks are to resume.

Ashton briefed Euro MPs on her diplomatic efforts at the UN General Assembly last week, which was marked by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s bid for full state membership of the UN despite Israeli and US objections.

The Palestinian leadership said Israel’s approval of new housing units was a snub to a Quartet call for the rival sides to return to the negotiating table within a month, with the goal of reaching a deal within a year.

Ashton said: “I think it’s wrong to get people to live in a place which, when you look at a negotiated settlement, they’re probably going to have to move from. Actually, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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