Israel’s decision to reclassify as state land a tract in the Jordan Valley raises questions about its commitment to a two-state solution to end the conflict with the Palestinians, the European Union said in a statement on Thursday.
Echoing remarks this week by Germany and France, the EU’s foreign policy service issued a rare statement directly criticizing Israel for its appropriation of 579 acres near Jericho.
“Any decision that could enable further settlement expansion, which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace, will only drive the parties to the conflict even further apart,” the EU said.
The Israeli move, announced on Tuesday, allows 45 days for the public to register any complaints.
The EU condemnation comes just a few weeks after Israeli officials said that friction over EU labeling of products from over the Green Line had been successfully addressed.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said in February that the two sides had “overcome the crisis” over labeling and that Israel would withdraw its demand for exclusion of EU bodies from any future peace talks with the Palestinians.
The two “agreed that relations between the two sides should be conducted in an atmosphere of confidence and mutual respect,” the Foreign Ministry said.