EU foreign policy chief says Israeli measures undermine peace talks

10:38, March 16, 2010      

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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned on Monday that the recent Israeli measures jeopardized peace talks with the Palestinians.

Addressing a meeting with the members of the Arab League (AL), Ashton said the Israeli approval of establishing new housing units in the occupied East Jerusalem endangered the agreement reached with the Palestinian side to start indirect negotiations.

"Recent Israeli decision to build new housing units in East Jerusalem has endangered and undermined the tentative agreement to start proximity talks," the EU foreign policy chief said.

Meanwhile, Ashton reiterated that the EU considers Israeli settlements "illegal" and "constitute an obstacle to peace," which threaten to make the two state-solution "impossible."

"We need peace now, because any delay could make peace more difficult," Ashton said, urging all sides concerned to contribute to the peace process and take up their responsibilities.

In a U.S.-pressured turn, Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo earlier this month voiced support for the Palestinians to conduct indirect talks with Israel for a period of four months.

A few days later, the Palestinian leadership gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greenlight to participate in the parley on the condition that Israel must totally freeze settlement expansion before any possible resumption of direct talks.

However, Israel announced on March 9 that it will establish 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. The announcement coincided with the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to the country.

The project drew harsh condemnation from Biden, the White House, the United Nation, the European Union and across the rest of the world, and cast a thick shadow over the U.S.-mediated indirect talks on which the Jewish state and the Palestinians had just agreed to embark.

Source: Xinhua
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