The president of Lithuania called Sunday for Israel to freeze settlement building, saying continued expansion beyond the Green Line was “likely to ruin” peace prospects.
Dalia Grybauskaitė made the comment after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Vilnius, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency.
Grybauskaitė said that “both sides must abstain from any moves that are likely to ruin a successful peace process.” Israel, she said, must “end the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories. The European Union does not recognize settlements as part of Israel… Such actions by Israel impair the progress of peace talks.”
Israel and the Palestinians recently relaunched peace negotiations after a several-year hiatus. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry rejected reports that the talks were at a dead end, saying the sides “have been meeting with increased intensity.”
Grybauskaitė, speaking on behalf of the EU, called for the peace negotiations to continue.
“Peace talks are the only way to bring to an end the decades-long conflict between Palestine and Israel. It is a historic opportunity for both nations to ensure peace and stability in the region. The European Union strongly supports a peaceful two-state solution, which would enable Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side in peace and security.”
Lithuania currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which rotates between member states every six months. According to the Lithuanian president’s website, Lithuania since 2009 has implemented several joint training and educational programs with the Palestinian Authority.