Brussels, October 22 (RHC)-- The European Union has called on Israel to stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying the move impedes Israeli-Palestinian talks. The demand was made by the EU's rotating president, Lithuania, following talks between Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
The Lithuanian president called on Israel “to end the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories,” in an official statement published on her website. The statement added that “such actions by Israel impair the progress” of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The development comes as the Israeli group, Peace Now, said on October 17th that Israeli settlement construction on the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank has increased by about 70 percent.
The group added that the Tel Aviv regime began the construction of 1,708 new settler units in the West Bank between January and June of 2013, compared with 995 units during the same period in 2012.
Most of the settlement projects were carried out within the 1967 borders, the group further said. Settlement building in the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War is considered illegal under international law.
The Israeli regime has been under fire from the international community including its own allies over its expansionist policies. However, the Tel Aviv regime defies calls to abandon its illegal settlement activities.