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EU condemns new Israel settlement, but no action taken

Israelis soldiers arrested a Palestinian activist during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Tubas, on 17 Nov. 2016. [Shadi Hatem-Apaimages]
Israelis soldiers arrested a Palestinian activist during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Tubas, on 17 Nov. 2016. [Shadi Hatem-Apaimages]

The European Union (EU) yesterday condemned the Israeli government’s decision to establish a new settlement in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to back a proposal that would see unauthorised outpost Mevo’ot Yeriho retroactively “legalised”, thus becoming an official statement.

Israel distinguishes between official and unapproved settlements (the latter often referred to as outposts), while under international law, all settlements are illegal.

The Jordan Valley is a key region of the occupied West Bank, and the target of long-standing Israeli settlement activity, in parallel to the displacement of local Palestinians.

In its statement, the EU “reiterate[d] that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.”

“The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001, in line with prior obligations,” the statement continued.

READ: Annexation, the two-state illusion and forgetting the Palestinians

The EU noted that the Israeli government’s decision Sunday “follows recent announcements about the possible annexation of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area”, a reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election comments.

“Such steps would, if implemented, constitute a serious breach of international law, challenge the viability of the two-state solution and threaten regional stability and the prospects for sustainable peace,” the EU statement continued.

“The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Despite its concern about the latest news, the EU failed to mention any practical measures intended to halt Israeli settlement expansion, merely noting that it would “continue to monitor the situation closely, including any steps towards possible annexation, and act accordingly”.

As is customary, the statement was issued in the name of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Brussels-based body which acts as the EU’s diplomatic service.

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