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      EU 'Deeply Dismayed' by Israeli Housing Plans

      The EU is "deeply dismayed" by Israeli housing plans, saying the move threatens peace efforts.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 12/10/2012, 6:49 PM

      European leaders
      European leaders
      Reuters

      The EU is "deeply dismayed" by the recent announcement of new Israeli housing plans, saying the move threatens peace efforts, according to a draft prepared for foreign ministers Monday.

      "The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in particular plans to develop the E1 area," said a draft of the conclusions on the Middle East peace process at a one-day meeting in Brussels.

      The E1 plan, "if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict" as it would question the viability of the two-state solution central to the peace process, it said.

      The draft further reiterated the EU’s belief that "settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace," AFP reported.  

      The draft said that in view of recent developments, including the upgraded status of the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations, the EU believes it is now time to take "bold and concrete steps towards peace."

      To this end, both sides must "engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims."

      The EU also called on PA leadership to use the UN upgrade constructively and refrain from taking steps that would "deepen the lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution."

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday highlighted the hypocrisy of the international community, saying that while it will continues to denounce Israeli housing plays, it remains silent as Hamas openly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.