EU urges Israel to show 'zero tolerance for settler violence'

BRUSSELS - The EU urged Israel Friday to show "zero tolerance" for settler violence after an arson attack blamed on settlers in the occupied West Bank left a Palestinian toddler dead.

"The Israeli authorities should ... take resolute measures to protect the local population. We call for full accountability, effective law enforcement and zero tolerance for settler violence," a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogeherini said in a statement.

"The cold-blooded killing of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha, presumably by extremist settlers ... highlights the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," it added.

The attack stoked tensions further coming shortly after Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu approved 300 new settler homes in the West Bank.

Mogherini's office condemned that move Wednesday, repeating the view that more settler homes "call into question the Israeli government's stated commitment to a negotiated two-state solution in the Middle East Peace Process." Netanyahu called the firebombing in the village of Duma near the northern city of Nablus "an act of terrorism in every respect" and ordered security forces to hunt down those responsible.

The EU said it too wanted a "full and prompt investigation to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice.

"Acts like this terrible attack can easily lead to a spiral of violence and bring both sides further away from a negotiated solution.

"The EU reiterates its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy that seriously threatens the two state solution," the statement concluded.

Mogherini recently announced she was working on an idea for an "international support group" which would include Arab states so as to get peace talks back on track after they stalled completely last year.

Mogherini has repeatedly urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, saying the situation on the ground cannot continue and it is a delusion to believe otherwise.

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