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EU's Ashton 'deplores' Israeli settlement plans

Oct. 31, 2013 12:13 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 31, 2013 9:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned Israel's decision to build 1,500 settler homes in East Jerusalem, a statement said.

"The EU has repeatedly stated that settlements are illegal under international law. It has also called on Israel to end all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001," a statement read.

"The EU deplores the recent settlement announcements. Any actions that could hamper or undermine the on-going negotiations must be avoided. Bold and decisive leadership is needed for these negotiations to succeed. The EU will continue to support this process."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar on Wednesday agreed to build 1,500 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo, hours after 26 Palestinian prisoners were released from jail.

The decision was immediately condemned by Palestinian officials, with the Palestinian Authority presidency warning it could destroy the peace process.

PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said that Israel is exposing its true intentions of creating "'greater Israel' rather than a two-state solution."

"The Israeli government has proven once again that it is not a partner for peace nor a member of the international community that respects the global rule of law. We call upon the US to end Israel's culture of impunity, exceptionalism and entitlement," she said.

Israel announced plans for more than 2,000 new settler homes in tandem with the release of Palestinian prisoners in August, causing outrage among PLO officials.

The last round of direct peace talks broke down just weeks after they were launched in September 2010 in a bitter row over settlements.
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