EU 'dismayed' by Israeli settlement plan

2012-12-10 21:00
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Brussels - The EU is "deeply dismayed" by Israeli plans for new West Bank settlements that threaten peace efforts, which instead need revived, according to a draft prepared for foreign ministers on Monday.

"The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank," said a draft of the conclusions on the Middle East peace process at a one-day meeting in Brussels.

The plan "would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict" since it would question the viability of the two states supposed to emerge through the peace process, it said.

On the day it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU "reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace," it added.

The draft said that in view of recent developments, which include an unprecedented UN upgrade of the Palestinians' diplomatic status, the EU believed it was now time to take "bold and concrete steps towards peace."

To this end, both sides must "engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims."

The EU also called on the Palestinian leadership to use the UN upgrade constructively and not take steps which would "deepen the lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution."

Meanwhile, Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Monday that the Palestinians were looking to reactivate peace talks with Israel with the aim of resolving all final status issues within six months.

Erakat told the official Voice of Palestine radio, that the UN vote meant "a new stage" had been reached, convincing the Arab world that the peace process could be reconsidered.

Direct peace talks that began in September 2010 collapsed quickly in a dispute over settlements, with the Palestinians calling for a construction freeze and Israel arguing for a return to talks without such preconditions.

Before the start of talks in 2010, Israel observed a 10-month freeze on new West Bank construction but has refused repeated requests to renew it, dismissing them as an unacceptable "precondition" for talks.

The Palestinians say it is an "obligation" under international law.

Read more on:    un  |  eu  |  palestine
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