NIn a statement released tonight, the European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said that the European bloc “condemns the so-called planned legalization of five Israeli settlement outposts and the announcement of thousands of new housing units in the occupied West Bank.”

“The EU also strongly condemns the ongoing policies of expropriation implemented in the occupied West Bank by the current Israeli government. Ongoing efforts to establish facts on the ground, which risk leading to de facto annexation, must be stopped,” the European External Action Service said in a statement.

According to Peace Now, a Palestinian organization, Israel has approved the largest land seizure in the occupied West Bank in more than three decades, which includes the seizure of 12.7 square kilometers of land in the Jordan Valley.

“The Israeli policy of building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories constitutes a serious violation of international law, exacerbates tensions and undermines efforts to achieve a solution based on the coexistence of two States,” said Borrell, who called on Israel “to annul these decisions.”

The EU, it warns, “will not recognise changes to the 1967 borders unless agreed by the parties”, in line with its long-standing common position and UN Security Council resolutions.

Borrell recalls that, at last week’s European Council, the leaders of the 27 stressed their support for the Palestinian Authority, in power in the West Bank.

“It is necessary to put an end to actions that weaken the Palestinian Authority,” he stresses.

The European Union, the same statement adds, “notes the most recent transfers of parts of the tax and customs clearances to the Palestinian Authority and the short-term renewal of the compensation agreement that allows the West Bank to be connected to Israeli banks and the international financial system.”

The 27 insist however that “the proceeds in accordance with the Paris Protocol must be transferred in a timely manner, in full and without undue deductions to the Palestinian Authority”.

Finally, the EU reiterates its “unwavering commitment” to “a lasting and sustainable peace based on the two-state solution, in which the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine live side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition”.

The Israeli measure, which was approved at the end of last month but was only made public today, follows the seizure of eight square kilometers of land in the West Bank in March and 2.6 square kilometers in February.

This makes 2024 by far the peak year for Israeli land seizures in the West Bank, Peace Now said.

Palestinians view settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank as the main obstacle to any lasting peace agreement, and most of the international community considers it illegal or illegitimate.

The Israeli government considers the West Bank to be the historic and religious heartland of the Jewish people and opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians claim all three territories for a future state.

Israel has built more than 100 settlements across the West Bank, some of which resemble suburbs or fully developed small towns.

More than 500,000 Jewish settlers who have Israeli citizenship live there.

The three million Palestinians in the West Bank live under Israeli military rule, which seems to have no end.

Read Also: Borrell calls for greater global cooperation in the face of new global challenges


Leave a Reply