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EU, UN criticise Israel for settlements

    Israel’s refusal to change its position on settlement building has prompted criticism from members of the European Union and the United Nations.

    The rebukes came as Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho flew to Washington to discuss the progress of the peace process at meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East George Mitchell.

    On the same day Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Thursday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that the EU considered settlements an obstacle to peace.

    She said: "I note with regret that Israel has not been in a position to accept an extension of the [settlement] moratorium.”
    Mr Ki-moon expressed regret that Israel would not heed “the united call of the international community”.

    His spokesman Martin Nesirky added: “In spite of this setback, [he] believes it is more important than ever to promote a negotiated endgame for a two-state solution.”

    A group of former European leaders have also called for strong measures to be taken against Israel for not complying with EU position on settlements.

    The letter has been signed by 26 people from different countries including the ex-Irish President Mary Robinson and former EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana.

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