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EU calls on Israel to halt settlement expansion in occupied West Bank

The European Union called on Friday for Israel to stop the expansion and building of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu has reported. The EU stressed that settlements are a violation of international law.

"The retroactive authorisation of nearby illegal outposts or redrawing of local settlement boundaries contradicts previous public statements by the Government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements," the EU pointed out in a public statement. "The decision to continue settlement building and expansion goes directly against the recommendations of the Quartet Report, weakens rather than strengthens the prospects for a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process, and makes the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote."

Settlements, the EU reiterated, are illegal under international law. "Continued settlement expansion calls into question Israel's commitment towards reaching a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians." The decision to expand settlements risks further separating Ramallah from Nablus and thus further undermines the contiguity of a future Palestinian state, the Europeans noted.

Last Sunday, the Israeli authorities approved plans to construct 98 new housing units in what is effectively a new settlement in the northern West Bank, near the existing settlement of Shiloh.

According to Anadolu, official Israeli statistics show that the second quarter of 2016 witnessed the highest rate of settlement building in three years.

Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority stopped in 2014 due to Israel's insistence on settlement building in the occupied West Bank and its refusal to release Palestinian prisoners who have spent more than two decades behind bars.

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