The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, has criticized Israel for endangering the fragile Middle East peace process by announcing plans to expand “illegal settlements.”
"Recent Israeli decisions to build new housing units in East Jerusalem have endangered and undermined the tentative agreement to begin proximity talks,” the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said Monday in a speech to the Arab League in Cairo.
Ashton, who is facing a crucial test in her first official trip as the EU policy chief, cautioned that the European Union would not accept the expansion of “illegal" settlement and questioned Israel’s commitment to ending the conflict.
"The European Union’s position on settlements is clear. Settlements are illegal, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two state solution impossible, a solution that the Israeli Prime Minister says he supports," she said.
Israel’s settlement activities are in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 446, 452 and 465.
Ashton went on to affirm that while seeking a deal restore “justice, freedom, and dignity to the Palestinians," Israel’s security was also a main concern of the 27-nation bloc.
Over the weekend, Spain, which also holds the rotating EU presidency, warned that if Israel were to continue settlement expansion at the current rate the occupied Palestinian lands would be annexed within two years.
"Until now, it’s not too late, but if we wait for more than two years it will be too late," Spanich Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Saturday.