Israeli government's decision to expand settlements in the West Bank
Delivered in Plenary - 12th December 2012
While the ECR greatly sympathises with Palestinian frustrations, their successful effort to win observer status at the UN provoked justifiable anger in the eyes of the Israeli Government who have offered much evidence to support their claims of a material breach of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
Nevertheless, the Israeli response in my view was counterproductive. My group, the ECR, has consistently opposed the construction of new settlements, expansion obviously being an obstacle to lasting peace and a viable two-state solution, and the latest Israeli announcements have not helped their cause.
Nevertheless it is vital to point out in Israelís favour that the much-discussed E1 corridor is in a preliminary planning phase and the government did not announce any imminent construction work. They have also provided a robust defence for withholding Palestinian authority funds in order to pay Israeli companies, particularly the electricity company which is owed a lot of money.
This situation now, however, must be de-escalated before it becomes a full-blown crisis. We ask both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian authority to display courage, humility and wise heads and to return to the negotiating table without delay in order to have a two-state solution.