Plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem pose a threat to peace and Israel’s relations with the European Union, the 28-member bloc said yesterday, joining the United States in its criticism of the decision.
The strong language from the European Union, the biggest aid donor to the Palestinians who seek statehood in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, echoes criticism from Germany, France and Washington.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the decision to build 2,610 homes in Givat Hamatos would be the first new settlement in the East Jerusalem area for 15 years.
“This represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the European Union’s External Action Service said in a statement.
“We stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on the latter’s engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution,” the EEAS said, referring to an independent and democratic Palestinian state that would exist alongside Israel.
It did not say whether any action would be taken over its criticism. Israel is eligible for 14mn euros ($17.6mn) in EU funding over the next seven years, while the EU is Israel’s biggest trading partner.
Brussels called on Israel to “urgently reverse” actions leading to settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of a future state alongside Israel.
The EU also accused Israel of allowing further settlement expansion in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.
The 28-country bloc also called on Israel to end decades of settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, land which Israel seized in the 1967 war with the Arabs and on which the Palestinian want to build a future state.
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