EU pulls statement referring to settlement activity on “disputed” land

The statement was re-issued with the land instead being referred to only as being "occupied".

A Jewish settler walks at the Jewish settlement outpost of Adei Ad B in the West Bank (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
A Jewish settler walks at the Jewish settlement outpost of Adei Ad B in the West Bank
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
The European Union has recalled a statement that referred to land in Area C as “occupied or disputed.”
The EU holds that all of the West Bank – including Area C, where the settlements are located – is not disputed, but rather “occupied territory” and part of a future Palestinian state, unless determined otherwise through negotiations.
On Thursday, the office of Josep Borrell, its new foreign policy chief, issued an EU condemnation of Israeli settlement activity, in the aftermath of the announcement earlier this week that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samara had advanced plans for 1,669 new settler homes.
“We call on the government of Israel to fully comply with international law, [and] end all settlement activity on occupied or disputed lands, and related actions,” stated the original release by the EU External Action’s office.
The call to halt settlement activity was part of a larger statement which affirmed the EU stance that settlements were illegal under international law.
The EU has since recalled the statement and reissued it without the word “disputed,” with its spokesman Peter Stano clarifying the word had been placed there in error.
In its condemnation statement, the EU also took issue with the retroactive legalization of 267 homes, in a planning meeting held on January 5 and 6. Some 120 of the homes were in the outposts of Haresha and Mitzpe Dani. The Higher Planning Council also gave final approval to a plan for Haresha that would allow for the construction of a 258-unit project, including 70 already existing structures at the site.
The approval also legalizes the outpost as a new neighborhood of the Talmon settlement. The council allowed for the filing of legal deposits for a 180-unit plan for Mitzpe Dani, of which some 50 homes already exist, but final approval was not given. Once it is, the Mitzpe Dani outpost will become part of the Ma’aleh Michmash settlement.
The EU said some of the structures that were retroactively legalized were on private Palestinian property.
The advancement of plans for settler homes “follows other settlement-related developments in recent months, including in particularly sensitive places such as east Jerusalem and Hebron,” they said.
The EU reiterated its “clear position that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.”
The EU also called for a halt to settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank.
It issued its statement just a day after the United States affirmed its newly clarified position that settlement activity was not illegal and that Israel had claims to the territory that went back to biblical times.
In a video to the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country recognized “that these settlements don’t inherently violate international law.”