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The European Union urged Israel on Wednesday to freeze all settlement activity in the West Bank, saying that planned new construction in the region jeopardized the chance for peace and was in violation of international law.
"The presidency of the European Union is disturbed at the news that the Israeli government has solicited tenders for the construction of 690 new housing units in the West Bank settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Beitar Illit," said an EU statement issued by Finland, which currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency.
"The presidency urges the Israeli government to cancel this call for tenders and to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth of settlements," the statement said.
The EU said the planned construction also broke the Geneva Convention, which state that an occupying power "shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
The EU described the call for tenders as "particularly unfortunate at a time when confidence-building measures are urgently needed in the region."