By JPOST.COM STAFF
The European Union on Friday afternoon condemned the government's decision to include West Bank settlements in the the national priority map, saying that such a move contradicted Israel's 10-month building moratorium in Judea and Samaria.
"This decision runs counter to the spirit of the settlement freeze," the Swedish EU presidency was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"It also prevents the creation of an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations on a two-state solution," the EU statement reportedly read.
The Foreign Ministry blasted the EU statement, saying that criticism by the European Union was increasing the disagreement between the sides instead of promoting peace and working towards the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Senior diplomatic sources told Israel Radio that they regretted the European statement, which they said indicated a lack of familiarity with the details of the government decision.
On Sunday, the cabinet voted to include within the map 120,000 settlers who live in 86 out of the 121 settlements. Many of those settlements listed as a national priority are located outside the route of the security barrier.
Peace Now has argued that inclusion of any settlement on the map harms the peace process. But Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said that the government on Sunday had reduced the number of settlements on the national priority list.
The last map, created by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2002, listed all the settlements, he said, adding that these communities are among the most vulnerable in Israel and deserve to be on the map.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report
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