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Eu says israel violating international law

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EU: Israel Violating International Law
Jul 22, 7:50 AM (ET)


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - During a visit to the Jewish state, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Thursday said Israel's West Bank separation barrier violates international law.

Solana's comments came just two days after the European Union infuriated Israeli leaders by supporting a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling on Israel to tear down the barrier in compliance with a world court ruling.

"A country has the right to build a fence on its own territory but we believe the route of this fence is contrary to international law," Solana said during a joint news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

Moments earlier, Shalom said "the government and people of Israel are deeply disappointed by Europe's decision to vote with the Palestinians and against the fence."

"The EU should be engaged in promoting Palestinian reform in Gaza and Ramallah, not Palestinian manipulation in the U.N.," Shalom said, adding that Europe's vote "encourages the Palestinians to continue their evasion of responsibility" on fighting terror.

The two men met for an hour before the news conference amid an atmosphere of rising tensions between Israel and Europe.

Israel says the string of fences, walls and barbed wire that will eventually stretch 425 miles keeps out suicide bombers. Palestinians say the construction of the barrier is a land grab since it cuts into the West Bank at several points.

"The fence goes through occupied territories and from the very beginning we have been against that, it's no surprise," he said.

"The security of Israel and the protecting of the Israeli people is something we have always supported and we'll continue to support," Solana added.

Israel's Foreign Ministry summoned European ambassadors for consultations Wednesday to express Israel's displeasure over the European position on the barrier.

Shalom said Israel had hoped the meetings with Solana would focus on improving Israeli-European relations but were redirected because of the U.N. vote.

"This visit is now taking place in the shadow of Europe's vote ... Much of our time today was spent in a frank discussion of the issue," Shalom said.

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday calling on Israel to take down the barrier and comply with a nonbinding ruling issued earlier this month by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

Solana had photo opportunities and meetings with Israeli government officials canceled Thursday.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel had decided to give Solana an especially "difficult and cold reception."

Israel has refused to comply to the world court ruling and the U.N. resolution. Neither of them are legally binding, but both have symbolic significance.

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