Shortly after the Israeli government approved the establishment of a new settlement on the outskirts of Jericho city, the European Union slammed all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as a serious breach of international law.
“The European Union reiterates that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law,” said the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic in a press release.
The EU called on Israel to “end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001 in line with prior obligations”, the statement said.
The statement came after the Israeli government approved the construction of a new settlement, Mevo’ot Yericho, currently an outpost which lies just 650 meters from the Area A of the northern edge of Jericho.
The move comes just days after Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to extend Israeli sovereignty over the highly strategic Jordan Valley, while encircling Palestinian Areas A and B.
“This decision follows recent announcements about the possible annexation of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area”, the statement added.
“Such steps would, if implemented, constitute a serious breach of international law, challenge the viability of the two-state solution and threaten regional stability and the prospects for sustainable peace,” it added.
The statement reiterated that “the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties and will continue to monitor the situation closely, including any steps towards possible annexation, and act accordingly.”
The statement voiced the EU’s expectations that both parties, including any future Israeli government, act in accordance with international law.
The valley, which is a fertile strip of land running west along the Jordan River, is home to about 65,000 Palestinians and makes up approximately 30% of the West Bank.
Since 1967, when the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, Israel has transferred at least 11,000 of its Jewish citizens to the Jordan Valley. Some of the settlements in which they live were built almost entirely on private Palestinian land.
The Israel military has also designated about 46 percent of the Jordan Valley as a closed military zone since the beginning of the occupation in June 1967, and has been utilizing the pretext of military drills to forcefully displace Palestinian families living there as part of a policy of ethnic cleansing and stifling Palestinian development in the area.