EU slams Israel’s ‘special zones program’ 18Dec09 December 19, 2009

Press TV -  18 December 2009


The EU has denounced Israel’s listing of some West Bank settlements as special zones, saying the move is against the spirit of a freeze on settlement expansions.

“The European Union expresses its disapproval of the decision of the government of Israel on December 13 to include settlements in the ‘National Priority Areas program’,” the European bloc said in a Friday statement.

“The decision runs counter to the spirit of the settlement freeze,” said the statement released by Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The decision announced on Sunday offers the communities designated as “national priority zones” some 41 million dollars (28 million euros) worth of credit which will benefit 110,000 settlers and can be used for vocational training, education or cultural activities.

The move is generally viewed as a gesture to mellow settlers’ furor at a partial 10-month freeze on settlement expansions in the West Bank after months of international pressure for a full and permanent halt on all Israeli construction activity in the occupied territory.

However, the concession faced sharp criticism from the European Union for preventing “an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations on a two-state solution.”

“The European Union encourages Israel instead to continue along the path set forth by the moratorium,” the Friday statement added.

Sweden also reiterated the European bloc’s opposition against the Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land as “illegal under international law,” and urged Israel to immediately end all settlement activities.

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