Today we discuss with this debate two separate issues, both originate from the war of 1967 but they are separate ones: on one hand, the decision by the US Administration to recognise the Golan Heights as Israeli territory; and on the other, the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank.
First, the US recognition of the Golan Heights. The EU has a very simple and clear position that I have had the possibility to reiterate and restate in very clear manner over time and more recently. The EU does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over any of the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, in line with international law and with UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497. And this also applies to the Golan Heights.
The second issue we discuss is the Israeli government’s settlement policy. I will not comment on the potential policies of a future government that is not even established yet.
What I can say is what we are seeing in recent times: over the past months Israeli settlement construction has continued. Only last week, plans for more than 4,600 new housing units were advanced by the Israeli authorities. Right after the announcement, we issued a statement to repeat that we consider all settlement activity illegal under international law, and that settlements erode the viability of the two-state solution.
And in fact, the two-state solution is not only fading away. It is being dismantled piece by piece.
The next escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine could easily spiral out of control, and it would have tragic consequences in a region as unstable as today’s Middle East.
Our first duty then is to keep the two-state perspective alive, and to preserve the possibility of new negotiations toward peace to take place.