- Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 13:40
Baroness Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, expressed her concern on Wednesday about Israel's planned building of 130 new homes in East Jerusalem, and said that illegal settlements are threatening to make a two-state solution "impossible".
The statement released by her spokesperson said that Ashton was "seriously concerned about the implications of the recent decision by the Israeli authorities to publish a tender for 130 additional housing units in the settlement of Har Homa across the Green Line in East Jerusalem."
The statement continued, "The High Representative has already expressed her profound disappointment concerning the Har Homa plan approved in August 2011. Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.
"The EU has repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem."
Ashton had previously expressed her disapproval of expansion of Har Homa a year ago.
Ashton's statement follows a letter sent by Lieberman to Ashton on Monday, as well as to the Foreign Minister of Russia, the US Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General, which called for elections to replace Mahmoud Abbas as President of the Palestinian Authority.
In the letter, Lieberman also claimed that Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, are not the main obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestine.
Lieberman accused Abbas of focussing his discussions with the international community on the issue of settlements "in a calculated manner". He added, "Unfortunately the international community tends to accept this discourse, lock, stock and barrel, without criticism or a nuanced approach."
Lieberman claimed that "facts and history" refuted the idea that settlements are the main obstacle to peace, calling the notion "unfounded" and stating that Israel had signed their peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt while settlements existed.
The letter to Ashton also claims that the last settlement that Israel constructed was in 1991. However, existing illegal settlements have been continuously expanded since then, while settlers have established new outposts without the Israeli state preventing them. Israel has also supported expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem since 1991.