Tuesday

31st Mar 2020

EU speaks out against Israeli settler spike

  • Latest settlements would further isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank (Photo: Mohammad Usaid Abbasi)

Europe has underlined its opposition to new Israeli settlements that would cut off Palestinian communities.

France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the EU foreign service all criticised the plans, announced by Israel on Friday (21 February), to build 5,200 more housing units in the Har Homa and Givat Hamatos settlements.

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The move would isolate Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank.

And it would "undermine the possibility of a coherent and viable Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution", Germany said.

"Colonisation is illegal in all its forms under international law," France added in a separate statement.

The Israeli plans were "a serious obstacle" to lasting peace, Italy said.

They would be "a significant step" against a future Palestinian state, Ireland added.

And "such steps would be deeply detrimental to a two-state-solution," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Germany also cited a UN Security Council resolution from 2016, which called Israeli settlements a "flagrant violation" of international law.

The EU has complained about Israeli settlers for years, 630,000 of whom have moved to the West Bank since Israel conquered it in 1967.

But Europe's latest alarm call came after the US gave Israel the green light to annex parts of the West Bank and went against the UNSC on settlement legality.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict at their next meeting on 23 March, when they are likely to restate their old position.

France and Ireland also took part in a recent meeting, hosted by Luxembourg, to discuss EU options if Israel went ahead with annexation, including the option of EU recognition of Palestine.

And for his part, Pope Francis also urged Israel and the US to reconsider.

"The Mediterranean region is currently threatened by outbreaks of instability and conflict, both in the Middle East and different countries of north Africa, as well as between various ethnic, religious, or confessional groups," he said at a Roman Catholic bishops' meeting in Bari, Italy, on Sunday, according to the Reuters news agency.

"Nor can we overlook the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of inequitable solutions and, hence, a prelude to new crises," he said.

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