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Ex-EU leaders urge Israel sanctions

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A group of former European leaders have called for tough sanctions against Israel in response to Tel Aviv’s failure to stop settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land.

Criticizing the European Union’s existing policy toward Israel, in a letter sent to European governments and EU institutions on Monday, former heads of states, ministers and heads of European organizations said Israel must be made to feel “the consequences” and face “a price tag” for breaking international law by expanding its Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

They have also urged European countries to recognize a free and independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.

“EU will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 boundaries, and clarify that a Palestinian state should be in sovereign control over territory equivalent to 100 percent of the territory occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem (al-Quds),” the letter asked EU foreign ministers to declare to Israel.

The ex-leaders, including the former EU foreign affairs chief, Javier Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, have asked EU foreign ministers to give Israel an ultimatum that if it does not end occupation and continues violating international law by April 2011, the EU will seek an end to the US-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in favor of a United Nation solution.

“Time is fast running out, Israel’s continuation of settlement activity… poses an existential threat to the prospects of establishing a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state,” the letter warned.

The ex-leaders have also urged the European Union to link its informal freeze on an upgrade in EU-Israel diplomatic relations to a settlement freeze, block imports of products made in the illegal settlements but labeled as made in Israel, and force Tel Aviv to pay for the majority of the aid required by the Palestinians, the EUobserver website reported on Friday.

They have also asked the bloc to send a high-level delegation to East al-Quds to back Palestinian claims and reclassify EU support for Palestine as “nation building” instead of “institution building.”

The signatories also include former Italian prime ministers Romano Prodi and Giuliano Amato, ex-German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, ex- Spanish PM Felipe Gonzalez and Norway’s Thorvald Stoltenberg and 10 former ministers and two former EU commissioners.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East al-Quds, during the Six Day War in 1967 and has settled around 500,000 Jews in the occupied area. Constructing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal under international law.

Palestinians believe that expansion of Jewish settlements on their occupied lands will make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible.


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