European Union rotating president Lithuania called today for Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank, saying they were impeding the peace process.
The statement followed talks between Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Grybauskaite called on Israel “to end the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories,” insisting that “the European Union does not recognize settlements as part of Israel.”
“Such actions by Israel impair the progress of peace talks,” she said in an official statement published on her website.
Construction starts in Jewish settlements land rose by 70 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2013, anti-settlement group Peace Now said last week.
Grybauskaite said the Middle East peace process was a “historic opportunity” which “must continue.”
“The European Union strongly supports a peaceful two-state solution, which would enable Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side in peace and security,” she said.