May 23, 2013
EU report denounces 'provocative' Israeli settlement building
Israeli building on occupied land poses the most serious threat to the creation of a Palestinian state, EU diplomats said in a report leaked on Wednesday, urging Europe not to fund any settlement activities.
The non-binding document by European Union consul generals in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 war, said the 27-nation bloc should be diligent in ensuring settlements are excluded from trade benefits enjoyed by Israel.
"Settlement construction remains the biggest single threat to the two-state solution. It is systematic, deliberate and provocative," said the internal report that was sent to Brussels for consideration earlier this month.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly spurned international calls to stop settlement activity on land Palestinians seek for a future state. Citing historical and Biblical links to Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel says it has a right to build there.
The report denounced Israel's treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. It also urged EU states "not to support ... research, education and technological cooperation" and to discourage investment in Israeli firms operating in occupied territory.
European countries, the report added, should consider barring entry to their territory of "known violent settlers".
Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the document would not help efforts to further peace.
"A diplomat's mission is to build bridges and bring people together, not to foster confrontation. The EU consuls have clearly failed in their mission," he said.
Senior Palestinian politician Hana Ashrawi welcomed the report and urged EU states to heed its recommendations.
"Now is the time to exercise the political will that is required to hold Israel accountable before any and all chances for peace are destroyed," she said in a statement.