EU condemns Israel over e. J'lem intent

Bloc's foreign ministers "ask for a total freeze of settlement activity."

March 22, 2010 14:12
1 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, right, talks a

lieberman european fm 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Monday condemned Israel's intent to continue building in east Jerusalem, saying it represents a roadblock to international peace efforts.

"The European Union has condemned all the settlement activities," said Spanish Foreign Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose nation holds the EU's rotating presidency. "We ask for a total freeze of settlement activity. We will pursue this policy."

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EU foreign ministers met in Brussels a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will not restrict construction in east Jerusalem.

The halt to settlement construction is a key demand by the Quartet of Mideast negotiators who are trying to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has agreed to curb settlement construction in the West Bank, but not in east Jerusalem, claiming the entire city as Israel's eternal capital.

Israel's stance on its capital has also run into stiff opposition in Washington. Netanyahu is due to meet US President Barack Obama on Tuesday to discuss the impasse.

"The Netanyahu announcement is completely, utterly unacceptable," Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the EU message to Israel was clear.

"The settlements are illegal as well as being a roadblock on the road to security and justice for Palestinians and Israelis which will come through a two-state solution," he told journalists.

Visiting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was due to meet individually with the foreign ministers of Finland, Germany, Lithuania and Malta, but not with the entire 27-member body.

Lieberman was supposed to attend a joint EU-Israel committee meeting Monday, but this was postponed until next month because EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton just visited Israel and Gaza last week.

The EU has denied that the postponement is meant as a snub to Lieberman.

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