Ashton Deplores Israel's Announcement of Additional West Bank Construction

'The settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace,' says European Union foreign policy chief.

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed deep concern over the latest announcement by Israel of new construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and called on Israel ‘’to stop all settlement activities," the European Jewish Press reported.

In a statement issued Sunday Ashton said :"I was deeply concerned to hear the latest announcement by the Israeli authorities to advance settlement plans once more in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.’’

"The settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make the two-state solution impossible," she added.

Ashton recalled that, on 16 December, the 28 EU foreign ministers unanimously warned against actions that undermine the current negotiations and deplored Israel's continuous expansion of settlements.

She stressed that current peace talks represent a "unique opportunity" for both Israelis and Palestinians.

"The EU is ready to provide its full support to a peace agreement. At this delicate moment of the negotiation, I call on all the parties to act now to build trust – not undermine it – and to work together for a lasting, just and final settlement of the conflict,’’ she concluded.

Israel announced on Friday plans to build 1,400 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The announcement was made three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to launch a new wave of settlement construction parallel to the third step of Palestinian prisoner release.

Netanyahu delayed the tenders until after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the region.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.Credit: Reuters

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