EU urges Israel to halt settlement building

EU urges Israel to halt settlement building
Sat Apr 19, 2014 08:19:13

European Union’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has called on the Israeli regime to reverse recent actions, such as announcing new settlements in the occupied West Bank, to bolster shaky US-engineered talks with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

Ashton viewed with "great concern" an Israeli decision to declare an area near the Gush Etzion settlement south of Beit-Lahm as state land and approval of a new settlement in the southern city of al-Khalil, a statement from her office said on Friday.

The continued demolition of Palestinian property and the confiscation of EU humanitarian aid were also worrying, Ashton added.

Earlier this month, an EU official said the Tel Aviv regime had demolished several EU-funded humanitarian housing shelters in a highly sensitive strip of West Bank land near al-Quds (Jerusalem).

"The EU calls on the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions," Ashton said.

Such events are "not conducive to the climate of trust and cooperation needed for the current peace negotiations to succeed," she added.

All sides should "show utmost restraint and responsibility in order not to jeopardize the current negotiation process", she said.

Under an agreement brokered by the US for the resumption of the talks last July, the Tel Aviv regime vowed to release 104 prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords in four batches. But in March it cancelled the release of the last group of 26, triggering the ire of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who retaliated by seeking accession to 15 international treaties and conventions.

More than half a million Zionist settlers live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israeli regime's occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The United Nations and most countries in the world regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by the Tel Aviv regime in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

The regime has repeatedly defied demands by the international community to stop construction of new settlements in West Bank and East al-Quds.


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