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EU summons Israeli ambassador over settlement expansion

Dec. 5, 2012 5:23 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 10:33 P.M.)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- The European Union has summoned Israel's ambassador to discuss the bloc's concerns over Israeli plans to expand its settlements in the occupied West Bank, an EU foreign affairs spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns," Maja Kocijancic said.

The Executive Secretary General -- the senior diplomat in charge of policy for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton -- is Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington.

Several EU countries have already called in Israeli ambassadors for consultations, but EU states have been struggling to agree on a common response to the settlement expansion plans.

The spokeswoman said the EU reaction to Israel's new building plans would depend on the extent to which they threatened the establishment of a viable state of Palestine in the future.

Israel moved forward Wednesday with plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international protests.

The European Union has repeatedly spoken out against Israeli settlements on land the Palestinians want for their state. Ashton said on Sunday that she was "extremely concerned" by the plans.
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