European leaders demand ‘maximum restraint’ from Israelis and Palestinians

US warns Israel against actions contrary to new peace plan while Britain, France and EU urge restraint from both sides

The European Union has demanded “maximum restraint” from both sides following new settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, saying it undermined chances of securing peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a statement, the 28 EU leaders urged the sides to avoid steps “contrary to the objectives” of a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan initiated by US vice-president Mike Pence.

Pence announced the plan, which has been given little public traction, at the start of a foreign policy trip to the Middle East last week, but its release has been delayed amid concerns it would alienate the Palestinians and strike them as one-sided.

Palestinian chief calls Pence’s peace plan ‘outrageous and unacceptable’ Read more

Donald Trump’s administration has billed the new plan as more specific than previous international mediation efforts, and US officials have said it is designed to entice the Palestinians to rejoin a peace process they quit last year after the US president recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In what Israel’s attorney general has described as preliminary proceedings to begin an investigation into possible American violations of foreign policy, Israeli officials have begun encouraging homeowners to register land with the state to build settlement homes.

“The European Council emphasises that the European Union does not consider the new activities undertaken by the Israeli authorities and NGOs on the territory in question to be in accordance with Israel’s stated commitment to continue and intensify construction activities that are consistent with international law,” read the statement.

“The European Council underlines the necessary value to the pursuit of a negotiated two-state solution,” it added.

The statement added that EU member states were working to “stabilise the situation in Syria and Iraq, and to also prevent the threat posed by Iran and its proxies to international peace and security”.

It highlighted “ongoing efforts to reform the European Union and to reinforce its role in the international community”.

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