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EU removes reference to ‘disputed’ territories in statement on Israel settlements

A general view of Halamish Jewish settlement after United States announced Israeli settlements in West Bank don’t violate international law, in Ramallah, West Bank on 20 November 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
A general view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank on 20 November 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union (EU) deleted a reference to “disputed lands” from a statement issued yesterday condemning Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, reported the Times of Israel.

The initial version of the statement by Brussel’s new foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, issued via his spokesperson Peter Stano, urged Israel to case settlement activity on “occupied or disputed lands”.

Shortly afterwards, a second version was published with the reference to “disputed” deleted.

Stano claimed that the earlier version’s reference to “disputed lands” was due to a “human error”.

Israeli officials, and pro-Israel advocacy organisations, have often referred to the occupied Palestinian territory as “disputed”, as opposed to occupied, their status under international law.

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One reason for doing so is as part of a defence of the settlement enterprise since 1967, colonies whose establishment the international community has routinely condemned as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Israel had approved the construction of 1,936 housing units in the occupied West Bank, with the vast majority of new units set to be built deep in the West Bank.

The full EU statement began with a summary of recent settlement expansion-related news, before reiterating Brussels’ long-held position “that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334”.

The EU urged Israel “to fully comply with international law, end all settlement activity on occupied territories and related actions,” adding that “violence by settlers on Palestinian civilians and their property has to be stopped and prevented.”

“The European Union also reiterates that it will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides,” the statement continued.

“The European Union will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards the two-State solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both peoples,” the text concluded.

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