Italy and 4 other nations urge Israel to halt settlements

As well as demolitions, 'counterproductive'

16 October, 17:45

    ROME - The governments of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain issued a joint statement on Friday calling for an immediate halt to Israeli settlement building and demolitions of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

    The statement was issued a few days after Israel's decision to approve the construction of 4,900 new homes in the West Bank.

    The Quintet noted: "The expansion of settlements violates international law and further imperils the viability of a two-state solution to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. As we have emphasised directly with the Government of Israel, this step also undermines efforts to rebuild trust between the parties with a view to resuming dialogue.'' It went on in the statement to say that: ''We call for the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2334 with all its provisions. We emphasise that we will not recognise any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regards to Jerusalem, unless agreed to between the parties. The suspension of plans to annex parts of Occupied Palestinian Territories must become permanent. We call on both sides to refrain from any unilateral action and resume a credible dialogue, as well as direct negotiations on all final-status issues.''

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