Saturday, January 2, 2010
Catherine Ashton castigates Israel, says al-Quds is occupied territory
The new EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has castigated the Zionist apartheid regime, calling for a prompt end to the Israeli occupation.
In her first speech as the European Union’s first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Ashton said the EU viewed East Jerusalem as occupied territory, along with the West Bank.
Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, and reiterated that the Union opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence, as it opposes evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
The stateswoman, whose full title is Baroness Ashton of Upholland, also only defined Israel’s partial freeze of West Bank settlement construction as a “first step,” as opposed to the warmer description of the move by EU foreign ministers who took “positive note” of it the previous week in December.
Ashton, who was only recently appointed to the new position, said she had spoken with Israelis, Palestinians and the U.S. Secretary of State about the role of the Quartet of international mediators and that of its special envoy to the region, Tony Blair.
Following her comments, a number of EU MPS from the Liberal side of the house called for punitive measures against Israel, including the suspension of the EU’s Association Agreement.
Irish centre-left member Proinsias De Rossa, who visited the West Bank early December, called Israel’s treatment of Palestinians a form of “apartheid.”