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EU demands Israel 'reconsider' West Bank settler homes plan

Israeli authorities on Tuesday advanced plans for 1,292 new settler homes [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2017

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The EU has urged Israel to reconsider plans for nearly 1,300 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, saying they were illegal under international law and undermined peace prospects.
The EU on Wednesday demanded Israel reconsider plans for nearly 1,300 settler homes in the West Bank, saying they were illegal under international law and undermined the prospects for peace.

Israeli authorities on Tuesday advanced plans for 1,292 new settler homes, with approval from a committee overseeing settlement construction in the West Bank, according to the Peace Now watchdog.

The move came after Israeli government officials pledged a major boost in settlement home approvals this year, with US President Donald Trump much less critical of such plans than his predecessor Barack Obama.

But the EU condemned the step, restating its position that settlement activity was "illegal under international law" and damaged "the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace".

"The European Union has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to ongoing efforts towards meaningful peace talks," an EU statement said.

The bloc voiced particular concern about proposals to build settler homes in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron for the first time since 2002 and about the start of preparatory groundwork in the east Jerusalem area of Givat Hamatos.

Construction in Givat Hamatos would "severely jeopardise the contiguity and viability of a future Palestinian state", the EU said, adding that it would continue work with international and regional partners to try to restart dialogue.

Trump is seeking to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which collapsed in 2014 following the failure of an earlier US-led initiative.

Settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, is seen as a major obstacle to peace as the homes are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

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