West Bank: Statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on Israeli settlement expansion
In recent days, Israel has announced a significant expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, in areas in and around Jerusalem. These plans, which foresee the construction of close to 5.000 housing units, jeopardise the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State as the outcome of a negotiated two-state solution, in line with the internationally agreed parameters.
Settlements are illegal under international law. As stated consistently, the EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.
Settlement activity threatens current efforts to rebuild trust, to resume civil and security cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis and to prepare the ground for an eventual resumption of meaningful and direct negotiations.
The Government of Israel should reverse these decisions and halt all continued settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem and sensitive areas such as Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and E1.
The period from March to August 2020 also saw a spike in demolitions or confiscations of Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU reiterates its call on Israel to halt all such demolitions, including of EU-funded structures, in particular in light of the humanitarian impact of the current pandemic.
Against the background of normalization of relations between Israel, UAE and Bahrain, Israelis and Palestinians should seize this opportunity and take urgent steps to build confidence and restore cooperation along the line of previous agreements and in full respect of international law.