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EU threatens sanction on Israel while Netanyahu expands settlement construction

The European Union has threatened to impose economic sanctions against Israel and has called on it to cancel its settlement projects which were announced yesterday.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Israeli Land Administration has published new tenders for 1,466 housing units in settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. This move is unhelpful to peace efforts," an EU statement said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department expressed its "deep disappointment" of the broad settlement construction projects in the West Bank and Jerusalem. "We said on a regular basis that such actions are unhelpful and it is hard to see how these settlements contribute to peace," US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Herf said at a press briefing.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet staff and cabinet members on Sunday to discuss additional steps in response to the formation of the Palestinian national unity government. Measures include imposing of new sanctions on the Palestinian Authority and taking political steps. They will also discuss the Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett's proposal to annex area C in the West Bank to Israel.

The EU said: "We call on the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision and to direct all their efforts towards an early resumption of the peace talks.

"The EU and its Member States have repeatedly called on all sides – most recently in May – to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and the viability of a two-state-solution, such as continued settlement expansion."

"The European Union and its member states repeatedly called on all parties to show maximum restraint and avoid any unilateral action would undermine peace efforts and the continuity of two-state solution, such as the continuation of settlement activities."

The statement said that the foreign ministers of the European Union recently confirmed "their commitment to the full implementation" of the law relating to European settlement. The European Union began in January to apply the rules prohibit dealing with companies or organizations based in the settlements. Union confirmed that "what needs to be done now is a commitment to build in order to create a climate leading to the resumption of negotiations."

Netanyahu decided to proceed with the planning and construction of 1,800 housing units which were frozen three months ago, in response to the establishment of a Palestinian government of national reconciliation. This was in conjunction with the announcement of tenders for the construction of 1,500 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians reacted angrily to the announcement of the tenders, with Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Hanan Ashrawi, saying Palestinians will go to the United Nations and demand that steps be taken against settlement construction.


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