Former EU officials call for strong measures against Israel

Ahram online, Saturday 11 Dec 2010

Days after the US abandons efforts to pressure Israel to stop settlement expansion, former EU leaders call for strident measures in support of Palestinian rights.

Settlments AP Photo
A construction worker works on a new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

A group of 26 senior former European leaders are calling for sanctions against the Israeli government in response to its refusal to end settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday.

The report says the leaders criticised Israeli policies in a letter sent Thursday to the leadership of the European Union and the governments of the EU's 27 member states ahead of their scheduled ministerial meeting to take place Monday.

According to the same report, the signatories to the letter include former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, former German President Richard von Weizsacker, former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales, former president of the EU Commission and former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

The letter joins recent recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders declared by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Also, the European Union Council intends to back the Palestinian Authority's efforts to rally international support behind the establishment of a free and independent state, and ending the Israeli occupation.

Moreover, European leaders are also calling upon the EU not to accept any unilateral changes to the 1967 borders that Israel has made, and that the capital of the Palestinian state would be East Jerusalem. The EU should support, according to the leaders, only minor exchanges upon which both sides agree.

In addition, EU officials point out that any upgrading of relations between the EU and Israel will be frozen until settlement activities stop in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The move comes after days after US officials dropped their demand for Israel to halt all construction in West Bank settlements, leaving peace talks in limbo.

Settlements AP Photo
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