Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:
"I deeply regret the announcement indicating that over 200 building permits were granted on Monday for housing units to be located in the West Bank Settlement of Ariel.
This is the third time since the beginning of August that the Israeli Government has approved settlement expansion in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem.
Parties must do their utmost to avoid acts on the ground which undermine confidence. It is in their interest not to derail current efforts to resume direct negotiations. All settlement activities are illegal under international law and threaten the viability of an agreed two-state solution."