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Middle East Inside Line: Israel Criticised by EU and UN over Settlements Policy

CB015977On Friday, both the European Union and the United Nations criticized Israel for its settlement policy. The EU condemned the government's decision to include West Bank settlements in the the National Priority Map as a contradiction of its pledge for a 10-month moratorium. The Israeli Cabinet had voted on Sunday to include 120,000 settlers, living in 86 out of the 121 settlements, in the Map; many of the settlements are outside the security barrier being constructed by Israel in the occupied West Bank territory.

The Swedish Presidency of the EU declared, "This decision runs counter to the spirit of the settlement freeze. It also prevents the creation of an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations on a two-state solution." In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry said the EU's position was exacerbating the disagreement between the two sides, instead of promoting peace and working towards the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Palestine Inside Line: Hamas Moves to “Liberation” of West Bank from Abbas and Israel

This was not the end of a bad day for the officials in Israel. Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, criticised the 10-month moratorium, claiming the temporary freeze in the settlements undermined Israel's commitments in the 2003 Road Map. He added:

We are in a race against time to overcome the contradictions on the ground, and the crisis of confidence between the parties, and move decisively toward a political endgame.

The situation is serious. We need, we urgently need, to see some progress in the new year. We continue to appeal to the government of Israel to allow the United Nations actually to start doing some real reconstruction, genuine reconstruction, in Gaza. UN agencies are doing what they can to help the population in the coming winter.

Serry was also critical of Israel's linkage of the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier detained by Hamas, and its Gaza policy:
I am hopeful, if he is released, we will be able to immediately resume these projects. Israel is publicly on record that as long as Schalit is not released, they are not willing to allow significant amounts of construction materials in. Let me add here that this linkage is not accepted by the UN.

Reader Comments (1)

Add to all the above the EU Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process from 8 December:

Amongst many other things, the Council adopted the following conclusions:

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

Gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza, the Council urges the full implementation of UNSCR 1860 and the full respect of international humanitarian law. In this context, the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive. It has devastated the private sector economy and damaged the natural environment, notably water and other natural resources. The EU again reiterates its calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.

December 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

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