European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on
Thursday criticized Israel for offering tenders this week for the construction of 1,213 new homes in east Jerusalem.
Ashton said in a statement that she "deeply regrets" moves to add 607 units in Pisgat Zeev and 606 units in Ramot.
"Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution
impossible," it said.
building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and led to direct negotiations being put on hold in September 2010.
Concerned. Ashton (Photo: EPA)
"During 2011 and 2012 the EU High Representative has expressed her profound disappointment on a number of occasions concerning the expansion of nearby Har Homa settlement. Together these developments continue the process of separating East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory," the statement added.
"Continuous expansion of settlements, wherever this takes place, further complicates ongoing diplomatic efforts to avoid deterioration in the prospects for a return to negotiations at this critical time," Ashton said.
"The EU has repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem, in line with its obligations under the Roadmap."
The statement continues: "The European Union
maintains that negotiations continue to represent the best way forward in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Continuous expansion of settlements makes this all the more difficult."
The Palestinians say they will not hold talks while Israel builds on land they want for their future state, while Israel says it wants negotiations without preconditions.
The number of settlers in the West Bank has grown to around 340,000, with another 200,000 living in east Jerusalem.
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