EU urges ‘full respect’ of Holy Sites in Jerusalem
Palestinian worshippers walk outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound after Friday prayers in the Old City of Jerusalem on November 14, 2014. (Ahmad Gharbali/AFP)
On Oct. 30, Israel ordered the first full closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for 14 years. The resulting controversy raised concerns about increasing violence and risks threatening the peace process.
''The EU appeals for full respect of the Holy Sites,'' the EU Council said in a statement. ''Any change of the status quo would have deeply destabilizing effects,'' the statement added.
On July 8, Israel launched "Operation Protective Edge" – its deadliest offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years – which killed 2,131 Palestinians, according to a report by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released on Sept. 4.
The operation caused 18,000 houses to be either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving approximately 108,000 people homeless, according to the agency.
The Council’s statement said: ‘’the EU deeply deplores and strongly opposes the recent expropriation of land near Bethlehem, recent announcements of plans for new settlement construction, in particular in Givat Hamatos, Ramat Shlomo, Har Homa and Ramot, as well as plans to displace Bedouins in the West Bank and the continued demolitions, including of EU and Member States funded projects.’’
The EU urges Israel to reverse these decisions, which run counter to international law and directly threaten the two-state solution.
''Recent settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states,'' the Council said in the statement.
Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told the press on Sunday that Israel would not stop building homes for Jews in East Jerusalem.
''One thing should be clear: we will never accept the definition of building in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem as settlement activity,'' Lieberman said. ''We won't accept any limitation on building in Jewish areas of [East] Jerusalem.''
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