Javier Solana, EU Foreign Policy Chief, toured several Arab towns near Jerusalem on Sunday and said that he is shocked by the Israeli settlement growth in the occupied West Bank. He called on Israel to freeze its settlement activities and stop the construction of the Annexation Wall.Solana stated that these activities could hinder the Arab-Israeli peace process.


He stated that the Wall is built on Palestinian lands, which the Palestinians want for a future state.


Solana’s visit came as Israel announced that it intends to construct a new settlement neighborhood northeast of Jerusalem.  


Recently, the Israeli Peace Now movement reported that the Israeli Ministry of Housing issued tenders in newspapers for the construction of 44 units in the settlement neighborhood northeast of Jerusalem.


Solana visited Abu Dis town, east of Jerusalem and its surroundings, and expressed shock when he saw how the Israeli government extended the settlements and the Annexation Wall in that area.  


The expansion of settlements comes in direct violation to the US-backed Road Map peace plan which states that Israel should halt its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.


Settler population, according to Israeli records, arrived at 260.000; the number does not include settlers living in illegal settlements outposts.


Solana also said that there is now an opportunity for peace, and that he hopes that Israel and the Palestinians “should not miss this opportunity, and resume that political process that would end the conflict”.


He stated that the Wall Israel is constructing is political and is increasing the suffering of the people.


Solana’s tour in the Middle East included a visit to Egypt, the Palestinian territories, and he is planning to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert before he heads back to Brussels.