27th Jan 2021

EU says Israeli barrier is illegal

The EU is against Israel building a separation barrier around Jerusalem, as it believes the move is illegal, the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said.

"We think that Israel has the right to defend itself but we think that the fence which will stand outside the territory of Israel is not legally proper and it also creates humanitarian problems", he was reported as saying after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

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The barrier will separate east Jerusalem and the largest West Bank settlement from the rest of the West Bank, and will also divide Bethlehem. It is due to be completed by the end of the year.

Israel is saying the wall is meant to keep out Palestinian attackers and suicide bombers, but Palestinians view it as another land grab.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague declared the barrier illegal in July 2004, but Israel has ignored the judgment.

On Sunday (10 July), Israel's cabinet decided to build another segment of the fence around Jerusalem, with Israeli officials admitting it would effectively separate 55,000 Palestinian residents from the rest of the holy city.

The route will make Jerusalem "more Jewish", Haim Ramon, Israel's minister for Jerusalem affairs said, adding "the safer and more Jewish Jerusalem is, the more it can serve as a true capital of the state of Israel".

Supporting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza

Meanwhile, Mr Solana reiterated EU backing of the Israeli decision to withdraw from Gaza, saying the bloc wants to play its role to ensure the success of the operation.

"We would like to be of help, if economically, help politically and help from a security point of view", he said.

Javier Solana, who is to finish his four-day visit in the Middle East on Thursday (14 July), called the Israeli initiative a "courageous decision", and stressed that the EU wanted the move to contribute to reviving the bilateral peace process.

Israel is due to start withdrawing form Gaza in August.

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