EU denounces new Israeli settlement plan, says it undermines peace

Reacting to Israel's plan to builf 2,500 more settlement homes in the West Bank, the EU stated that it is "regrettable that Israel is proceeding with this policy."

January 25, 2017 14:51
2 minute read.
West Bank construction

Construction in Shiloh settlement. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israel's plan for 2,500 more settlement homes in the West Bank seriously undermines the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, the European Union's diplomatic service said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the European Union External Action Service (EEAS) said Israel's plans flew in the face of international objections, saying they "further seriously undermine the prospects for a viable two-state solution."

"It is regrettable that Israel is proceeding with this policy, despite the continuous serious international concern and objections, which have been constantly raised at all levels," the EEAS said in a statement.

Israel announced the plan earlier on Tuesday, in the second such declaration since US President Donald Trump took office and signled he would be less critical of such projects than his predecessor.

Israel's announcement was received with just as much criticism by Palestinian leaders, who said that it flies in the face of international opinion. A member of the PLO Executive Committee, Wasel Abu Yousif, told the Jerusalem Post that "it is clear that the Israeli government is presuming that it can act in this manner with the arrival of the Trump administration."

He also added that Israel's decision to build more settlements has been made in defiance of UN Resolution 2334, which the UN's Security Council passed in December 2016 and which called on Israel to immediately halt its settlements construction.
"The international community said that the settlements are illegal and that is consensus position as evidenced in the unanimous approved of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334," Abu Yousif said.

In his announcement of the plan, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said: "We are returning to normal life in Judea and Samaria."
Israeli legislators advance revised bill to legalise settlements

According to the statement, the decision to build more settlement homes was agreed upon between Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who deemed it necessary to build more units in order to answer local housing needs.

In earlier statements, the prime minister asked ministers and Knesset members not to push for further settlement construction or the annexation of existing settlements in order not to upset the entering Trump administration.

However, in a more recent statement the premier was quoted as saying: "We are building, and will continue to build."

It appears that the White House also plans on reacting to Israel's announcement, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying that Trump has asked his team to convene and discuss the matter. "We'll have a conversation with the prime minister," Spicer said when he was asked about the matter at the daily press briefing.

Herb Keinon, Tovah Lazaroff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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