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US regrets WB settlement construction; EU condemns Israeli plans

Sept. 5, 2009 9:32 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 6, 2009 1:19 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Announcements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week were slammed by a chorus of international actors including the US and the EU on Friday.

US Presidential Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama’s stance on plans to approve additional settlement construction “is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the Roadmap.”

Gibbs said the US urged Israel to stop the program of construction, which would inevitably hamper US efforts to “create a climate in which negotiations can take place.”

As for action on the issue, Gibbs said US diplomats would “continue to discuss this with the Israelis,” and noted that discussions would stem from “Israel's stated intent to place limits on settlement activity.”

The US sentiment was echoed by voices of condemnation from the European Union Foreign Ministers meeting in Stockholm, where EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana reiterated "the position of the European Union is well known. All settlement activities must stop."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told AFP that the EU foreign ministers were united in their criticism of Israel.

French foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier called the Israeli announcement "evidently totally contrary to the spirit of the peace process and Israeli engagements, and to the dynamic of the peace process."

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