EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell
EU foreign affairs chief Josep BorrellReuters

The European Union urged Israel on Sunday to cancel plans to expand the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat HaMatos, warning that planned housing projects in the southern Jerusalem area could prevent the future formation of a Palestinian state.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell labelled the sparsely populated Jerusalem neighborhood an ‘illegal’ settlement, and said he was ‘worried’ by Israel’s plans to build more housing in the area.

“I am deeply worried by the Israeli authorities’ decision to open the bidding process for the construction of housing units for an entirely new settlement at Givat Hamatos,” said Borrell.

“This is a key location between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Any settlement construction will cause serious damage to the prospects for a viable and contiguous Palestinian State and, more broadly, to the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with the internationally agreed parameters and with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”

“The EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. It remains the EU’s firm position that settlements are illegal under international law.”

“The announced settlement activity will lead to the continuing weakening of efforts to rebuild trust and confidence between the parties which is necessary for an eventual resumption of meaningful negotiations.”

“The Government of Israel should instead show vision and responsibility and reverse these negative decisions at this critical and sensitive time.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Israel Land Authority published Sunday the tender for the construction of 1,257 housing units in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood.

A total of 2,600 units are planned for the first stage of the Givat HaMatos project.