EU pans new settlement expansion, says move harms chances for peace
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EU pans new settlement expansion, says move harms chances for peace

Statement comes after Israel advances plans for over 2,300 homes, most of them deep in the West Bank

A campaign sign promoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hangs from a house in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, on July 31, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
A campaign sign promoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hangs from a house in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, on July 31, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The European Union expressed disapproval on Tuesday after the Defense Ministry advanced plans for over 2,300 settlement homes, most of them deep in the West Bank.

“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 EU said in a statement, decrying what it described as “repeated confiscations, demolitions, displacements and land expropriation” aimed at Palestinians.

During sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee cleared 1,466 homes through an early planning stage while 838 homes received final approval for construction throughout the West Bank.

The majority of the homes advanced will be located deep in the West Bank, beyond the so-called settlement blocs. Seventy-seven percent of the homes approved Monday and Tuesday will be located beyond the planned or built route of the West Bank security barrier. Among the plans approved by the Civil Administration this week were three projects in wildcat outposts, granting the outposts retroactive legalization.

A settler carrying wood for construction at the Ramat Migron illegal outpost in the West Bank, June 29, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The batch of approvals followed the security cabinet last month okaying a plan to grant 715 building permits for Palestinians in Israel-controlled Area C in the West Bank, where for decades only several dozen homes have been green-lighted for construction. Due to the political ramifications of the approval, several ministers insisted it be conditioned on the parallel granting of 6,000 building permits for Israeli settlers.

“The EU expects the Israeli authorities to fully meet their obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development,” the 28-member political union said Tuesday.

“The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties,” it said.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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