Sunday, April 26
Latest News
  1. Clashes rage in Yemen as calls for peace talks grow
  2. EU AgenPolice arrest 26 across Europe in horsemeat scandal
  3. Home ministry: At least 114 killed in Nepal quake
  4. US: Russia failing to fully implement Ukraine ceasefire
  5. Kerry urges Yemen rebels and their allies to enter talks
  6. Ex-Yemen leader urges rebel allies to heed UN, pull back
  7. Iraq lacks DNA results to test body of 'Saddam deputy'
  8. Family: Syria's sacked political spy chief dead
  9. Officials: 14 Somali, Afghan immigrants killed by train in Macedonia
  10. UNICEF: At least 115 children killed in Yemen since March 26
  11. Athens stocks jump 4.4% on hopes of EU deal
  12. EU clears 19 genetically modified products
  13. Seismologists: Strong earthquake rattles New Zealand
  14. EU says progress 'not sufficient' for Greece debt deal
  15. World leaders join silence at ceremony marking Armenian genocide
  16. Jordan's crown prince at UN takes on militant 'dark world'
  17. US officials: Iranian ships turn back from Yemen
  18. Pakistan PM affirms Saudi 'solidarity' despite Yemen snub
  19. Three British plane spotters released in UAE
  20. UK regulator fines Deutsche Bank $340 mn over Libor

EU, Russia condemn Israeli settlement expansion plans

Dec. 21, 2012 5:42 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 12:33 P.M.)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- The European Union and Russia on Friday denounced Israel's plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and urged Israelis and Palestinians to take "bold and concrete steps towards peace".

Israeli officials said this week they would press on with plans to build 6,000 homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will damage already faint hopes for a peace accord.

"The European Union and the Russian Federation are deeply dismayed by and strongly oppose Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank and in particular plans to develop the E1 area," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

E1 is a wedge of land between East Jerusalem and the West Bank where Israel had previously held off under US pressure.

"The EU and the Russian Federation underline the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts in 2013," said the joint statement after an EU-Russia summit in Brussels.

Stung by de facto recognition of Palestinian sovereignty by the UN General Assembly last month, Israel announced it would expand settlements in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

The EU and Russia, which together with the United States and the United Nations make up the Quartet of Middle East mediators, said the settlements were illegal under international law and were an obstacle to peace.

"The EU and the Russian Federation will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties," they said.

It was time to take "bold and concrete steps towards peace between Palestinians and Israelis", they said, calling for "direct and substantial negotiations without preconditions".

The EU and Russia called for the unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip, and urged Israel to avoid any step that would undermine the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority.

They urged the Palestinian leadership to use Palestine's new UN status constructively and avoid steps that would deepen lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution.
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015