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EU slams latest Israel settlement approvals, takes no action

Israeli security forces intervene in Palestinian protesters as they stage a protest against the construction of the Jewish settlement in Ramallah, West Bank on 17 October 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli security on guard as Palestinians stage a protest against the construction of the Jewish settlement in Ramallah, West Bank on 17 October 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union (EU) yesterday issued criticism of Israel's latest settlement expansion plans, but once again failed to refer to any practical measures of accountability.

"In October 2019, Israeli authorities approved the advancement of well over 2.000 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank," read the statement.

The EU reiterated that its "position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace."

The statement also referenced approval given by Israeli authorities for "a building permit for the construction of a new tunnel road, which bypasses Bethlehem to the west".

READ: Israel draft bill would annex major West Bank settlements

"The progressive construction of a separate road network, connecting settlements and outposts to each other and to the road network in Israel while circumventing Palestinian towns and communities, is entrenching the fragmentation of the West Bank," the EU added.

The EU urged Israel "to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power", and affirmed that it will "continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution".

However, the statement failed to break from previous such texts, in omitting any suggestion of practical measures that would be taken should Israel persist in its violations of international law.

As reported by the Associated Press, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now reported that Israeli authorities "approved various planning stages for the construction of 2,342 new housing units in the occupied West Bank last month".

Peace Now also noted that "Israel has already pushed forward plans at various stages for over 8,300 settlement homes this year", which represents an increase of 50 per cent compared to 2018.

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