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EU Demands Reversal Of Israeli Settlement Approvals

European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton has called upon the Israeli government to reverse its decision granting approval for new constructions in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"The High Representative is deeply concerned by the approval on 22 February by the Israeli Civil Administration of new construction in the settlements of Shvut Rachel and Shilo as well as the retrospective approval granted for housing units already built," Ashton's spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Settlements are illegal under international law. In addition the Quartet Roadmap states that Israel should not only freeze all settlement activity, but also dismantle those settlements erected since March 2001," the statement added.

Ashton reminded that "it is particularly important at this point that neither party in the Middle East peace process undertakes provocative actions which undermine the prospects for continuing the dialogue which was re-established in January."

Ashton called on Israel to "respect its obligations under the Roadmap and reverse this decision."

Israel's Higher Planning Council approved on Wednesday the biggest settlement construction plan to date under the Netanyahu government. Under the permit, altogether 695 new housing units will be built in the illegal outpost of Shvut Rachel as part of legalizing it, and in the nearby settlement of Shiloh, deep in the West Bank northeast of Ramallah.

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