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EU retracts statement critical of settlements

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The European Commission retracted a statement that criticized Israeli settlements.

Israel’s settlement policy inhibits the growth of the Palestinian economy and makes the Palestinian Authority more dependent on foreign aid, the commission’s Jerusalem office had said Monday.

"It is the European taxpayers who pay most of the price of this dependence," the statement said.

The statement was ordered removed from all official EU Web sites.

"The press release unfortunately uses wording which does not reflect statements by the EU Commission," European Union spokesman David Kriss said Thursday, Ha’aretz reported. 

The commission also apologized to Israel’s ambassador to the EU, Ron Kuriel. A senior commission official told Kuriel that the statement released by the head of operations at the east Jerusalem office was issued without going through proper channels.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday had reprimanded the EU’s ambassador to Israel, Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal. 
 

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