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EU's Ashton 'regrets' tenders for new units in Israeli settlements

Nov. 8, 2012 9:29 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2012 8:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton "regrets" Israel's publication of tenders to expand the illegal settlements of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev, a representative said Thursday.

“The High Representative deeply regrets this week’s publication of tenders," a representative said in a statement.

The statement said that the EU backs two states and any unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and "will not be recognized by the European Union."

"Continuous expansion of settlements, wherever this takes place, further complicates ongoing diplomatic efforts to avoid a deterioration in the prospects for a return to negotiations at this critical time."

"Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," the statement said.

UK, France condemn

Britain's Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt condemned the tenders as "provocative."

"I condemn yesterday’s provocative decision to advance settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank through the publication of tenders for 1285 settlement housing units."

"The UK has been consistently clear that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and by altering the situation on the ground are making the two state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly hard to realise.

"It is deeply disappointing that the Government of Israel continues to ignore the appeals of the UK and other friends of Israel,” Burt said in a statement.

France also condemned the calls for tenders.

"France reaffirms its very grave concern at the provocative announcements and notices in an already tense situation," a statement from its consulate said.

"Israeli settlement activity – in all its forms – is illegal under international law. It is detrimental to efforts to restore trust between the parties and constitutes an obstacle to a just peace based on the two-state solution."

The statement said France's president's position is that settlement activity "must cease."

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