EU slams Israel over settlements, Palestinians (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 05/14/12)
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EU foreign ministers on Monday issued a harsh critique of Israel,
saying the gathering pace of settlement-building, settler extremism
and ill-treatment of Palestinians threatens a two-state solution.
"The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground which
threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," the bloc´s 27
ministers said in a statement issued during talks in Brussels.
"The viability of a two-state solution must be maintained," the three-
page European Union statement added.
Reiterating that settlements on occupied land are illegal under
international law, the ministers notably condemned "the marked
acceleration" of settlement building since the end of a 2010
moratorium and expressed "deep concern" over settler extremism and
incitement in the West Bank.
They also voiced concern over evictions and the demolition of
Palestinian homes in annexed east Jerusalem "and the prevention of
peaceful Palestinian cultural, economic, social or political
Turning to the so-called Area C zone of the occupied West Bank, where
Israel has full civil and security control, the statement noted "the
worsening living conditions" of the Palestinian population in general.
The ministers´ stand came on the heels of a damaging report by NGOs
alleging that Israel last year demolished dozens of Palestinian
homes, water cisterns and farm buildings built with European funds.
In Area C, Israel has placed "serious limitations" on the Palestinian
Authority´s ability to promote economic development, the statement
Saying the future of Area C was critical to a future Palestinian
state because this was its main land reserve, the EU urged Israel to
halt demolitions and simplify the granting of building permits.
"The EU will continue to provide financial assistance for Palestinian
development in Area C and expects such investment to be protected for
future use," the statement said.
But Israel´s foreign ministry issued a statement saying the EU
position included "a long list of claims and criticism which are
based on a partial, biased and one-sided depiction of realities on
"Such a public presentation does not contribute to advancing the
(peace) process," it said.
"Israel is committed to the wellbeing of the Palestinian population
and acts according to all relevant international conventions."
In contrast, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, welcomed the EU statement as "politically
"We believe the EU statement is a very comprehensive and politically
responsible statement. It addresses all the issues that have really
brought about this crisis, including the settlement activity, and
Israel´s non-compliance with international law and UN resolutions,"
she told AFP.
But the Palestinians wanted to see the EU propose a way forward in
stalled peace talks, which have been on hold since late September
2010, she said.
"What is lacking, unfortunately, is a mechanism to move ahead... We
were hoping that they would take an initiative, a mechanism, concrete
steps." (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 05/14/12)
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