Laborers work on a housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in east al-Quds. (file photo)
Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:36PM GMT
Israeli President Shimon Peres has called on the European Union to delay its new ban on funding projects in Israeli settlements built on Palestinian territories.
In a statement on Thursday, Peres joined the chorus of Israeli officials criticizing the EU decision to ban the bloc’s dealing with Israeli institutions that operate in the occupied territories.
The EU is expected to release new guidelines on Friday for its 28 members to stop funding projects in Israeli settlements in al-Quds (Jerusalem), the West Bank or Golan Heights, which the Tel Aviv regime occupied during the 1967 war.
“The coming days are critical. Wait with your decision,” Peres said, adding the decision “could lead to another crisis in our region.”
“I appeal to our friends in Europe… do not lead a process of irresponsible sanctions which will torpedo diplomatic negotiations,” he also said.
Peres claimed that the new directive would undermine attempts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to relaunch peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Kerry on Wednesday, saying the ban will damage peace talks efforts.
The EU’s office in Israel said that Peres, Netanyahu and Kerry all contacted European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday and discussed the new ban.
The directive is expected to take effect next year.
The Tel Aviv regime has increased its illegal settlement expansion following an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN to a non-member observer state on November 29, 2012.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds. Much of the international community considers the settlements illegal.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel’s plan to build more than 1,000 new illegal units in the occupied West Bank