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EU foreign policy chief criticises Israel over settlement expansion

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs has criticised Israel for plans to expand the illegal Har Homa settlement located on Mount Abu-Ghneim between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

"The EU has repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to end all settlement activities in the West Bank immediately, including in East Jerusalem," said Cathy Ashton. "Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," she added.

Ashton's spokesman also reported her deep concern over the new expansion project in Har Homa settlement. "Ashton is seriously concerned about the implications of the recent decision by the Israeli authorities to publish a tender for 130 additional housing units in the settlement of Har Homa," he said.


The EU official's remarks followed a four-page letter sent to her by Israel's Foreign Minister on Monday in which Avigdor Lieberman blames the Palestinian Authority for the current stalemate in the peace process and demandes that PA President Mahmoud Abbas should be replaced.

Lieberman also argued that settlements are not an obstacle to peace. "Facts and history, as opposed to the simplistic stereotypes and political bias, contradict the idea that somehow the settlement enterprise is the main obstacle to a renewing the negotiations," he wrote in the letter, copies of which were also sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Israel Land Administration announced recently bids to build 130 housing units in Har Homa settlement on Mount Abu-Ghneim in occupied East Jerusalem. This bid is a part of a larger construction project which consists of 1,000 housing units to be rented to young couples.

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