EU Summons Israeli Ambassador Over Construction Plans
The European Union called in Israel's ambassador on Thursday to express its concerns over Israel's plans to build thousands of new homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, AFP reported.
A spokeswoman told the news agency that Ambassador David Walzer met Pierre Vimont, number two in the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service.
Vimont reportedly underlined "the EU's concern about the Israeli announcement."
"The procedure of summoning an ambassador is a very exceptional one; normally we transmit the message locally to the authorities," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP.
The Israeli government announced last Friday it would promote the building in the “E1” area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim and would also build 3,000 new units in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
The Israeli move came in response to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s unilateral move in the UN, when the General Assembly approved with an overwhelming majority his request to upgrade the PA’s status to that of a non-member observer state.
Israel has faced international pressure to drop the building plans, with several nations this week summoning Israeli envoys to protest the Jewish state's announcement.
Kocijancic recalled that EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said on Sunday that both sides should avoid any action that could jeopardize the immediate return to negotiations.
EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the issue when they meet Monday, with one diplomatic source suggesting they could take a more critical stance on Israel as a result of its announcement.
Britain said this week the EU was unlikely to punish Israel by imposing trade sanctions over the construction plans.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there did not appear to be any "enthusiasm" in the EU for any move to impose economic sanctions on Israel over its E1 development plans.
"I don't believe there would be anywhere near a consensus," he told parliament. "Nevertheless if there is no reversal... we will want to consider what further steps European countries should take."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday afternoon, following a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, that the two were not in agreement over the housing project.
"On the question of settlements, we are agreed that we are not agreed,” Merkel told a joint news conference with Netanyahu in Berlin.