European Union representative: Settlements are a clear violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace

The Heads of Mission of the European Union states expressed their countries’ strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and measures, and emphasized that the settlements are illegal under international law and significantly undermine ongoing efforts to rebuild confidence.

During a visit they paid today, Monday, to the sensitive sites in what is known as the (E1) and Qalandia area in the outer periphery of East Jerusalem, they stressed that the European Union and like-minded countries do not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, Other than those agreed upon by the parties.

During the visit, European Union representative Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff said that “the recent approvals on thousands of housing units for Israeli settlers aim to separate the Palestinians from their city and change the identity of East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are a clear violation of international law and constitute a major obstacle to a just and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Such actions not only violate Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, but also undermine steps toward a lasting peace between the two parties and exacerbate tensions on the ground.”

And a statement issued by the office of the representative of the European Union stated, “This visit comes in the wake of the recent statements by the Israeli authorities about the development of major settlement plans in these areas.”

During the visit, the Israeli NGO “Ir Amim” briefed the diplomats on the deeply troubling consequences of settlement plans in the settlements of “Givat Hamatos”, Jabal Abu Ghneim, (E1) and Qalandia, where possible repercussions include threats to displace Bedouin communities, and moves towards the actual annexation of Palestinian lands in the area Jerusalem, and the further fragmentation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

The statement indicated that last month, the Supreme Planning Council approved accelerating plans to build 2,860 new housing units in 30 settlements. Part of the plans received final approval for validation, while other plans will be submitted for final approval at a later stage. On December 6, the Jerusalem Planning Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the construction of 9,000 housing units in Atarot. Although this is still at a very early stage of planning, it constitutes the first legally important step forward in a plan that could be as disruptive as building the E-1.

The statement stressed that these combined settlement plans threaten any remaining possibility of an agreement on a political solution. Rather, it aims to further fragment the West Bank and separate it completely from East Jerusalem.

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