The European Union has declared that Israelâ€™s plan to tear down illegal Arab dwellings to make way for an archaeological park and tourist center is an â€œobstacle to peace.â€
Catherine Ashton, chief of EU foreign affairs, reminded Israel that the EU never has recognized Jewish sovereignty over what is generally referred to as eastern Jerusalem, where it backs the Palestinian Authority demand to base a capital for a new Arab country. The areas actually include neighborhoods in southern, northern and eastern Jerusalem, most of them almost exclusively Jewish areas where 300,000 people live.
Ashton asserted that the Jewish homes in these areas are in effect "settlements, and the demolition of [Arab] homes is illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible." The homes in question were built without a legal permit.
Her comments coincided with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s resumption of indirect discussions, dubbed proximity talks, with his shuttling back and forth between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Ashton called on Israel "to refrain from measures which may undermine the ongoing proximity talks, [which] enjoy our full support."