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EU urges two-state progress against backdrop of sanctions talk

November 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm

The EU Foreign Affairs Council condemned Israeli settlement construction Monday, saying that “actions which call into question stated commitments to a negotiated solution must be avoided.”

The statement, following a meeting in Brussels, comes against a backdrop of discussions of possible sanctions to be taken by the EU should Israel continue to pursue policies detrimental to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Council, made up of the foreign ministers of the EU’s 28 member state, stated that the EU

deeply deplores and strongly opposes the recent expropriation of land near Bethlehem, recent announcements of plans for new settlement construction, in particular in Givat Hamatos, Ramat Shlomo, Har Homa and Ramot, as well as plans to displace Bedouins in the West Bank and the continued demolitions, including of EU and Member States funded projects.

The EU urged Israel “to reverse these decisions which run counter to international law and directly threaten the two state solution”, further adding that “recent settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states.”

The Council noted that the EU “remains ready to take further action in order to protect the viability of the two state solution”, and, pointedly concluded by emphasising how “the future development of the relations with both the Israeli and Palestinian partners will also depend on their engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two state solution.”

These comments come following days of speculation about whether EU officials are considering a number of measures designed to pressure Israel to cease settlement construction and other policies deemed to block progress towards a two-state solution.

Over the weekend, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a ‘menu’ of potential sanctions was being considered. However yesterday, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini described this “internal working document” as merely a “working hypothesis” rather than a “plan”.

Haaretz yesterday published the full document, which suggested, among other ideas, taking “measures against European member states that work in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” Other ideas include supporting recognition of a Palestinian state and a so-called “no contact policy” with settlers and public figures who are “publicly rejecting the two-state solution.”