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Ashton, Blair say settlements undermine negotiation efforts

Dec. 21, 2012 12:14 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2012 11:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Quartet envoy Tony Blair said Israeli settlement plans undermined efforts to restart negotiations in separate statements Thursday.

"The approval of an additional 2610 housing units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos is extremely troubling, coming in addition to announcements made at the end of November and Monday’s approval of 1500 units in Ramat Shlomo," Ashton said.

"This plan for Givat Hamatos would cut the geographic continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I strongly oppose this unprecedented expansion of settlements around Jerusalem," the EU official said

"The EU particularly opposes the implementation of plans which seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states," she added.

Ashton said the EU would closely monitor the situation and "act accordingly."

Meanwhile, Blair said the Israeli plans "put new obstacles in the way of progress and undermine the prospects for a negotiated peace leading to a viable Palestinian state living side by side with a safe and secure Israel.

"All parties should refrain from unilateral actions that harm efforts to achieve peace," Blair added.

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