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EU Tells Israel To Dismantle Apartheid Wall

EU Tells Israel To Dismantle Apartheid Wall, Settlements

Powell Lambastes Israel Over "Rogue" Settler Outposts

The European Union has vehemently condemned Israel’s unilateral separation wall, which it is building on occupied Palestinian land.

In a strongly - worded statement, the EU lambasted Israel for building the wall it is building east of the Green Line — the internationally - recognized border between the West Bank and Israel —saying it is making life intolerable for Palestinians.

Although the EU said it recognized Israel’s right to protect itself, it nonetheless said the "fence" would not be the way to achieve this purpose.

The wall, dubbed by Israel a "security fence" could prevent the creation of a contiguous future Palestinian state alongside Israel, the EU said, stressing that it should be dismantled.

"The EU calls on Israel to stop and reverse the construction of the so-called security fence inside the occupied Palestinian territories..."

In an annual meeting of the EU-Israel Association, attended by Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, the European Union called upon the Jewish state to stop extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinians and to avoid civilian casualties.

The statement also slammed Israel’s building of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a hurdle to the much-needed peace in the region.

Israel claims the 460-km wall, topped with barbed wire, security cameras and electrified fencing, is needed to stop attacks inside Israel.

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Palestinians call the series of concrete slabs, which slices through towns and villages, an Apartheid Wall, since upon completion, it will effectively sever the Occupied Territories and encroach upon some 58% of the West Bank.

The Europeans have also voiced fear over the wall, saying it is already isolating thousands of Palestinians from their land and from vital services, such as water.

"Thousands of Palestinians west of the fence are being cut off from essential services in the West Bank, Palestinians east of the fence will lose access to land and water resources," it said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the EU also demanded an end to Israel’s boycott of its special envoy, Marc Otte, imposed because of Brussels’s insistence that he maintains contact with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, whom Israel has been trying to sideline.

EU Growing Weary With Israel Over Settlements

Also on Tuesday, the European Union warned that it was growing more and more impatient with Israel over exports made in Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territory, deemed illegal under international law.

The EU said it "regrets that no progress has been made towards a solution of the bilateral question of rules of origin".

Talks between the two sides on the issue have yet to get off the ground and accordingly, the Europeans called on Israel "to engage in substantive talks on that basis as soon as possible."

EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten expressed frustration at perceived Israeli foot-dragging on the "rules of origin" dispute.

"I think patience has been given new meaning by the way that we’ve tried to deal with this issue," he was quoted by eubusiness.com as saying.

"It’s tiresome all round, it’s particularly tiresome for Israeli exporters. It doesn’t affect a huge amount of our trade, but it's an aggravation for everybody, it’s an irritant," he said.

Since 1998, the EU has been pressing Israel to stop labeling products made in illegal Jewish settlements as "Made in Israel" in a bid to ensure that all the goods it imports from Israel do not originate in these settlements.

That is why it has recommended that EU member states’ customs officers verify the exact origins of goods it is importing.

If the goods are not made in illegal settlements, then many have a chance of gaining from the preferential treatment given by existing trade agreements between the EU and Israel and thus escape import duties.

The EU insists that the special EU-Israel trade agreement only apply to goods made in Israel proper and not in settlements in the Occupied Territories, which the international community does not recognize.

Powell Lambastes Israel Over Settlements

Similarly, US Secretary of State Collin Powell censured Israel over the issue of settlements, stressing the need to evacuate "rogue"settlements, i.e. ones that have not been authorized by Israel.

Israel insists on distinguishing between settlements it authorizes and others it does not, in spite of the fact that all settlements built on occupied territory are deemed illegal under international law.

In a meeting with Shalom in Brussels, Powell also slammed the announcement of tenders for the construction of hundreds of news apartments in West Bank settlements, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.

Powell rejected the Israeli explanation that a significant period of time would pass until the apartments are built.

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