Daily Israel Report

Settlements Trump Syria and Iran as Top Mideast Issue, Says EU

What is the most “urgent” problem in the Middle East? Not Iran and not Syria, according to the European Union. It is the “settlements.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/13/2012, 4:57 PM

Ashton: 'Settlements' top Mideast issue
Ashton: 'Settlements' top Mideast issue
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is the most “urgent” problem in the Mideast, according to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

She said in a debate on the Middle East at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg this week that ending the Palestinian Authority-Israeli disagreement regarding sovereignty over Judea and Samaria remains a “key priority and fundamental to EU interest.”  

Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which Tehran denies exists, and Syria’ documented massacre of men, women and children opposing the Assad regime, took the back seat to the regions' problems that must be settled immediately.

Ashton has been an active opponent of Israeli sovereignty over any parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria that were restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967.

She did condemn recent missile attacks on Israel from Gaza, but she otherwise hammered on what she called “illegal settlement expansion.”

As for the future of Jerusalem, she stated that the capital "must be shared between the two nations as part of any two state agreement.”  

After establishing the “settlements” as the issue of priority, she described the “sickening” violence of Syrian regime. Ashton defended Kofi Annan’s six-point plan to end the violence in Syria despite Syrian President Bashar Assad’s refusal to honor several ceasefire agreements and despite the failure of United Nations observers to travel freely throughout the country to survey damage and Syrian army offensives.

She argued that the diplomatic approach “remains the best option.”