STRASBOURG, June 13, 2012 (WAFA) - Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on Tuesday that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory threaten the viability of a two-state solution.
Ashton, in her address to the European Parliament, said the Israeli proposals for new settlements around East Jerusalem, the lack of Palestinian involvement in area C, the growth of settlements in the West Bank, settler violence and the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority all threaten the viability of a two state solution.
“Settlement expansion must be condemned as they are illegal under international law and put current peace efforts at risk. I want to reiterate my call on the Israeli Government to exercise the highest sense of responsibility by reversing these decisions, in full respect of international law,” she added.
Ashton stated that the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless they are agreed by both parties and insisted on the need to respect international and humanitarian law is absolutely consistent, stressing that settlements remain the key and most serious concern.
She said the Israeli plans for major settlement expansion around Ease Jerusalem’s southern flank further undermines the prospect of Jerusalem as future capital of two states.
The High Representative indicated that the EU Foreign Ministers underlined the need to work with the Commission to ensure EU legislation is implemented effectively and with as much transparency as possible in regard to settlement products.
“Development of Area C is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state. Israel needs to help and facilitate this with concrete and pragmatic steps,” said Ashton. “We are also seriously concerned by recent and increasing incidents of settler violence which we all condemn.”
She thanked the European Parliament for its principled and constructive position with regard to the EU’s Budget to support precarious state of the PA finances and urged countries in the region and others to share the burden and increase their support.