The European Union called on Israel on Wednesday to reverse its decision to legalize three Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
“I am extremely concerned about the decision of the Israeli authorities regarding the status of the settlements of Sansana, Rechelim and Bruchin in the occupied Palestinian territory,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was quoted by AFP as having said in a statement.
“I call upon them to reverse this decision,” Ashton added. “The EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity. Settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.”
She said the Israeli decision ran counter to the spirit of an April 11 statement by the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers, the European Union, United States, Russia and United Nations.
The Quartet, said Ashton, “expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions, including continued settlement activity.”
On Monday, a ministerial team that had been appointed by the government announced that Sansana, Rechelim and Bruchin, which were built in the 1990s based on decisions of previous governments, will receive a legal status which hadn’t been given to them until now.
On Tuesday, the United States also criticized the decision, and U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters, “We are, obviously, concerned by the reports that we’ve seen. We have raised this with the Israeli Government and we are seeking clarification. You know where we are on settlements. We don’t think this is helpful to the [peace] process and we don’t accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”
Nuland declined to say what measures the American government would take if the communities of Bruchin, Rechelim, and Sansana are officially recognized by the Israel government. She said, “I’m not going to predict what further response there might be on our side.”
France and Jordan were also quick to condemn Israel’s decision, as did United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who said he is “deeply troubled” by Israel’s decision to authorize the communities.
“The Secretary-General is disappointed that such a decision comes at a time of renewed efforts to restart dialogue,” a statement from Ban’s office read.
On Wednesday, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian Authority may ask the United Nations Security Council for a condemnation of Israel’s move.