Council of European Union voice concern over situation in Gaza and lack of progress on settlements

The illegal settlement of Ariel, one out of the four largest settlements in the West Bank

3048th Council meeting, Brussels, 22 November 2010

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

ITEMS DEBATED – MIDDLE EAST

Ministers held a broad discussion over lunch on the situation in the Middle East, focusing in particular on the efforts to restart the direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and on the situation in Lebanon.

Middle East Peace Process

Ministers exchanged views on the latest developments concerning the Middle East Peace Process and underlined the EU’s continued support for the efforts of the United States to restart the direct negotiations, following a briefing by High Representative Catherine Ashton, after the EU-US summit. They voiced their concern at the current lack of progress and the on-going settlement activities, particularly in East Jerusalem.

The High Representative pointed to the Council’s December 2009 conclusions and recalled that settlements are illegal under international law, are an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. She emphasized that the EU would continue to work with the International Quartet towards the successful outcome of the negotiations if they were resumed.

Ministers also expressed their ongoing concern at the situation in Gaza, calling for the Gaza crossings to be opened and, in particular, for exports to be allowed out of Gaza.