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EU warns Israel over plans to raze houses in East Jerusalem

Arab World Materials 30 June 2010 14:31
The European Union warned Israel Wednesday not to proceed with controversial redevelopment plans in East Jerusalem that would see the razing of at least 20 Palestinian-inhabited houses.
EU warns Israel over plans to raze houses in East Jerusalem

The European Union warned Israel Wednesday not to proceed with controversial redevelopment plans in East Jerusalem that would see the razing of at least 20 Palestinian-inhabited houses, DPA reported.

The scheme, involving the creation of an archeological park in the al-Bustan neighborhood in the Silwan district, was approved by municipal authorities on Monday. Riots took place ahead of the decision, with dozens of people reported injured late on Sunday.

"I am deeply concerned by recent settlement-related activity in East Jerusalem and the recent unrest in Silwan. I recall that the European Union has never recognised the annexation of East Jerusalem," the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said in a statement.

East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel since 1967, but is expected to be returned to Palestinians as part of peace negotiations.

However, a growing number of Israelis has been living in the area as a result of state-sponsored settlement projects, making a return to pre-1967 borders more difficult.

Ashton reiterated that "settlements and the demolition of homes are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible."

The Silwan row erupted ahead of a visit by the United States' Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, who is due to conduct another round of indirect talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians later this week.

"I would like to call on Israel to refrain from measures which may undermine the ongoing proximity talks. These talks enjoy our full support and the parties need to engage seriously in these negotiations," Ashton said.

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