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‘Obstacle to Peace’: EU Slams Israel for New Land Grab in West Bank

© AP Photo / Mahmoud IlleanIsraeli soldiers stand guard at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank (File)
Israeli soldiers stand guard at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank (File) - Sputnik International
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The European Union slammed Israel’s move to grab 579 acres of land in the West Bank, stressing that it reflects poorly upon the country’s stated intention to contribute to a settlement to the Jewish State’s conflict with Palestine.

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Following in the footsteps of the UN and the US, on Thursday, the EU condemned Israel for occupying lands near Jericho in the West Bank and declaring them to be a part of its territory.

In a rare occasion of voicing direct criticism of an Israeli policy, the bloc’s foreign policy service issued a statement, saying that Israelis “undermine” the future of a two state solution, under which the independent state of Palestine would exist alongside Israel. It reiterated similar comments by France and Germany made earlier this week.

"Any decision that could enable further settlement expansion [in the West Bank], which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace, will only drive the parties to the conflict even further apart," the statement reads.

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The EU also underscored in its address that it would “firmly oppose” any steps taken by Israel to legitimize annexations made during 1967 war, including “demolitions and confiscations, evictions, forced transfers or restrictions on movement and access."

The seized territories indicate the biggest land grab by Israel in recent years, according to organization Israel's Peace Now that stands for the recognition of an independent Palestine.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to “strengthen Palestinian institutions, economic and security prospects, while respecting legitimate Israel's security concerns” in order to pave the way to a peace agreement.

“[Ban] stressed the need for both sides to restore a political horizon toward a peaceful two-state solution,” a UN statement read.

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Israel said settlement blocs will be in place in the West Bank regardless of peace agreement conditions. Palestinians are concerned that such a stance threatens the viability of their country.

The two-state solution dates back to November 29, 1947, when the UN General Assembly recommended in Resolution 181 the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states.

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