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August 14, 2013 3:59 pm

Report: US Quietly Backed EU Settlement Sanctions

avatar by Zach Pontz

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A neighbourhood in Ariel, Israel.

The United States quietly supported new EU sanctions against West Bank settlements, a senior European Union official told an Israeli diplomat last week, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

The European Commission published the new guidelines last month that limit its dealings with Jewish communities beyond Israel’s Green Line.

American officials have denied knowing in advance about the EU’s plans–which were made public shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

During a closed-door meeting between Kerry and American Jewish leaders, Kerry reportedly said that the move hindered progress on Israeli-Palestinian talks.

However, according to Ha’aretz, senior State Department officials said that the publication of the guidelines before the restart of negotiations bolstered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,  making it easier for him to agree to hold talks despite Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction. At the same time, the move  pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into agreeing to talks for fear of Israel’s international isolation increasing were he not to do so.

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