EU ‘Deeply Regrets’ Israel’s Settlement Expansion

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and PA's Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: WAFA, file)

Israel’s recent stream of announcements that it will build thousands of new settler homes in the occupied West Bank “marks a very worrying trend” and risks making a two-state solution impossible, according to the European Union.

Federica Mogherini, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, released on Wednesday a strongly worded statement decrying continued settlement expansion, which she noted is “illegal under international law”.

The EU “deeply regrets that Israel is proceeding with this, despite the continuous serious international concern and objections, which have been constantly raised at all levels,” she said.

On Tuesday, Israel announced the construction of 3,000 settlement homes in the West Bank, the fourth such announcement in the less than two weeks since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

Since Trump came to power, Israel has approved the construction of 566 housing units in three settlement areas of occupied East Jerusalem and announced the building of 2,502 more in the West Bank.  On Thursday last week, Israeli officials gave final approval for 153 settler homes in East Jerusalem.

“Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have decided to authorize the construction of 3,000 new housing units in Judea-Samaria,” the defense ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, using the term Israel uses for the West Bank, a Palestinian territory it has occupied since 1967.

Expansion plans had been frozen under pressure from the previous US administration of President Barack Obama, which had warned that settlements could derail hopes of a negotiated two-state solution.

Trump, however, has pledged strong support for Israel, and Netanyahu’s government has moved quickly to take advantage.

 

More than a half million Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

 

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

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