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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton 390 (R).(Photo by: REUTERS/Kimmo Mantyla/Lehtikuva)
Ashton to Israel: Reverse recent steps regarding West Bank, east Jerusalem
EU foreign policy chief slams Israeli moves as "not conducive" to climate needed for peace talks; condemns Monday's fatal shooting of Israeli man in West Bank; calls on sides to exert restraint from undermining diplomacy.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Israel on Friday to bolster the floundering peace talks with the Palestinians by reversing recent measures in regard to the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Ashton said she has "followed with concern" developments in the areas, including the Defense Ministry's authorization to expand Jewish property holdings in Hebron, the IDF's claim as state land of 100 hectares in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank, and reported Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property in Area C and east Jerusalem.

She also condemned Israel's alleged demolition of EU-funded housing structures outside of Ma'aleh Adumim in the E1 area, a highly contentious area in the West Bank east of Jerusalem.

In a statement, Ashton blasted such steps as "not conducive to the climate of trust and cooperation needed for the current peace negotiations to succeed."

The top EU diplomat also denounced the killing of Israeli police officer Ch.-Supt. Baruch Mizrachi in a shooting attack on his civilian car in the West Bank on Monday.

As negotiators continue attempts to break the currently deadlocked talks, Ashton called on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to exert restraint to refrain from violence and moves that could undermine the diplomatic process.

She also expressed her support for US efforts to mediate the negotiating process and said she "trusts that both Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas are committed to finding ways to continue negotiations."

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