European Union to slam Israel´s actions in West Bank (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 05/13/12)
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The 27 foreign ministers of the European Union are expected on Sunday
to issue a harsh denunciation of Israel´s activities on the West
Bank. The EU´s Foreign Affairs Council will criticize violence by
Jewish settlers against Palestinians and will call on Israel to
remove restrictions on Palestinian construction and economic
development projects in Area C of the West Bank, which under the Oslo
Accords was under exclusive Israeli control.
The condemnation, contained in an official council conclusion, is
exceptional because of its length - three pages - as well as its
detailed accounting of Israeli actions in the West Bank in the past
several months. According to a high-ranking European diplomat who has
seen a draft of the resolution, the EU foreign ministers will rebuke
Israel for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem. They will denounce settler violence against Palestinians
and call on the Israeli government to prosecute such actions.
Meanwhile, at a meeting in Ramallah on Saturday Netanyahu´s envoy for
the peace process, attorney Isaac Molho, gave Abbas a letter from
Netanyahu on the impasse in the peace process. It was a response to a
letter to Netanyahu from Abbas from a few weeks ago, in which the PA
leader blamed Israel for the derailment of the peace process.
A senior Israeli official said that in his response Netanyahu called
for the immediate resumption of talks without preconditions, but did
not propose any new ideas.
Before meeting with Molho, Abbas spoke on the phone with U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The EU resolution demands that
Israel allow Palestinians to build houses and be allowed more freedom
to pursue economic activity in Area C, which comprises more than half
of the area of the West Bank. Additionally, it calls on Israel to
allow the EU to help the Palestinians to build economic
infrastructure projects and to refrain from destroying them, as has
happened a few times in the past few months.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was behind the conclusion,
which has the support of the French, British and German foreign
A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that in the past two
weeks Israel has tried to block the conclusion. Israeli ambassadors
in a number of European capitals filed vehement protests to their
host government, in which they argued that the resolution would
complicate efforts to renew peace negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians. They also argued that the new unity government in
Jerusalem is in a strong position to renew the peace talks, and that
a negative message from EU foreign ministers would only encourage
The United States, Italy and the Netherlands also tried to help
soften the wording of the conclusion, to little effect. Only minor
changes were made in the resolution, which is expected to gain
approval on Monday.
"The resolution portrays the situation on the ground," a senior
European diplomat said. "The moment Ashton, the Germans, the French
and the British pushed this forward the process could not be stopped."
In its bid to forestall the resolution Israel pointed to the recent
exchange of letters between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (© Copyright 2012
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