EU's Ashton ‘troubled’ by new Israeli construction

BRUSSELS/NEW YORK ---EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday called the Israeli government’s approval of  an additional 2610 housing units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos "extremely troubling", stressing that it comes in addition to announcements made at the end of  November and Monday’s approval of 1500 units in Ramat Shlomo.
"This plan for Givat Hamatos would cut the geographic continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I strongly oppose this unprecedented expansion of settlements around Jerusalem," Ashton said in a statement.
She continued : "The EU has never been clearer than it was on 10 December in voicing its strong opposition to settlement expansion. The EU particularly opposes the implementation of plans which seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."
She said that "in the light of its core objective of achieving the two-state solution," the EU will closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and "act accordingly."
"The European Union calls for a bold demonstration of political will and leadership from both sides to break the current impasse and resume negotiations. The parties must engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims," the statement said.
Ashton’s reaction on the new Israeli construction plans came as all  members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York, with the exception of the United States,  publicly condemned  recent Israeli settlement construction plans as "a threat to peace efforts."
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