Media sources claim that Israel and America are putting considerable pressure on European Union foreign ministers who are preparing to issue a strongly worded statement condemning Israeli practices in the occupied West Bank. According to Haaretz newspaper, an anonymous EU official said that the foreign ministers' meeting, scheduled for Monday 14 May, will issue a statement considered to be the strongest condemnation of Israel's actions in the West Bank as well as the violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers. The statement will also call for the lifting of the restrictions imposed on economic construction projects by Palestinians in Area C in the West Bank, which is under complete Israeli security and civilian control.
The EU official confirmed that the extraordinary statement will also condemn the expansion of Israeli settlements the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Moreover, it will call on the Israeli government to deal more seriously with settlers who commit violent acts and bring them to justice.
"The EU foreign ministers will call on Israel to allow Palestinians to build houses, exercise economic activities and to move more freely in Area C," said the official. "They will also ask Israel to allow the European Union to assist the civilian population, and contribute to the infrastructure and economic projects to avoid their destruction, as has happened repeatedly over the past months."
The statement has been prepared by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton; it has the full support of the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany.
Israel, claims Haaretz, has been trying to block the statement, but has been unsuccessful in its efforts. It is alleged that the governments of the USA, Italy, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have also tried to tone down the language in the statement, but to no avail.
Tel Aviv's ambassadors around Europe have been telling European governments that such a statement at this time will send a very negative message and boost the position of the Palestinians. The government of Israel, they have been saying, is ready to move forward with the peace process.