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Signs of progress in Israeli-Palestinian dispute?
Last week the European Union's (EU) new guidelines banning EU funding of projects situated in the Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law, came into force. This will rule out agreements with any Israeli project in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.
In a statement, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said:
It has been the EU's long held position that it will recognise changes made to the borders once agreed by both parties. The EU is deeply committed to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
This comes after UNA-UK's Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, wrote to Baroness Ashton along with 18 other members of the European Eminent Persons Group. The Group urged the EU to urgently address the deteriorating situation in the region, and specifically called for:
A clear and concerted effort to counter the erasing of the 1967 lines as the basis for a two-state outline. This should include a clear distinction in EU dealings with Israel between what is legitimate – within the 1967 lines – and what violates international law in the Occupied Territories.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been engaging in shuttle diplomacy between Israel and Palestine, making six visits to the region in recent months. Secretary Kerry announced on 19 July that peace talks between the parties would resume "in the next week or so", though no details were given.
The last round of negotiations broke down three years ago. Israel this week has pledged to release Palestinian prisoners as part of the process, and has said it would put any potential peace deal to a referendum.
© UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe