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EU proposal could result in 'actions' against Israel over settlement construction

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JERUSALEM — An internal European Union document proposes unspecified "actions" against Israel for its settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, reflecting unhappiness with the lack of progress in Mideast peace efforts.

The document, known as a "nonpaper," is a proposal that is meant to serve as a basis for discussion among the EU's 28 member states. While it is far from becoming policy, the document noted that it was drawn up with "inputs" by member states, indicating at least some support for the proposals.

The document calls for unspecified moves against European companies operating in Israeli settlements. It also proposes actions against settlers themselves, including a "no contact" policy toward settler organizations, and a refusal "to engage with settlers," including public figures who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The proposals reflect European frustration over the lack of progress in peace efforts.

The last round of U.S.-brokered talks collapsed in April. Since then, Israel fought a 50-day war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and advanced plans to build hundreds of new homes in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as their capital. Israel has also experienced deadly unrest surrounding Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site.

PHOTO: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during their meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during their meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)

The EU document was first published Monday by Israel's Haaretz daily.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini played down the document.

"It certainly was not on the ministers' table today and it was not at the heart of today's discussion," she said. "There was certainly no question of isolating or sanctioning anybody, rather how can we re-motivate people to get into a dialogue again."

In a statement, the ministers said future relations with both Israel and the Palestinians would depend "on their engagement toward a lasting peace based on a two-state solution."

Speaking with his German counterpart Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said attempts to link Israel's relations with Europe to progress in peace talks are "misguided."


Raf Casert in Brussels contributed reporting.

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