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EU slams Israeli settlement plans

December 27, 2018

The European Union has roundly condemned new Israeli plans to build more than 2,000 homes in the West Bank. Israel's settlements in the occupied territory are a major obstacle to peace efforts in the region.

Ma'ale Adumim Settlement in West Bank
Image: picture-alliance/newscom/Debbie Hill/UPI Photo

The European Union on Thursday reiterated its opposition to Israel's settlement activities in the occupied West Bank after Israeli authorities advanced plans for nearly 2,200 settlement homes there.

"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement construction and related activities is clear and remains unchanged: All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace," EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Maja Kocijancic said a statement.

The approvals are the first of their kind since snap elections were called earlier this week.

On Wednesday, a settlement watchdog, Peace Now, said the plans were at various stages in the approval process, with 1,159 housing units having received the final approvals before building permits can be issued, and 1,032 at an earlier stage.

Contentious issue

The settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law as they are built on land that Palestinians see as part of their future independent state.

Read more: Israeli settlers sue Airbnb for delisting West Bank homes 

Settlements in West Bank

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat slammed the Israeli move as "the theft of Palestinian land and resources for the illegal expansion of settlements as part of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's campaign."

Underlining the importance of the settlement issue in right-wing Israeli politics, Netanyahu met with several settler leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday as campaigning for the snap polls gets underway. At the meeting, the prime minister warned that if he lost, it would "pose a clear danger to the settlement movement."

More than 600,000 Israelis live in more than 200 settlements both in the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem. Some settlements have taken on the dimensions of large towns.

tj/rt (AFP, dpa)

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