|Kerry urges EU to postpone Israel settlement ban||
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the European Union to postpone a planned ban on EU financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the occupied Palestinian territories, a U.S. official said.
According to Aljazeera, Kerry made the request at a meeting with EU foreign ministers at which he also called on them to support Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year hiatus.
The EU imposed restrictions in July, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.
A senior U.S. State Department official told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius that Kerry called on the Europeans to consider postponing the implementation of EU guidelines on aid.
After meeting with Arab league officials in Paris on Sunday, Kerry said that Israel and the Palestinians remained determined to push forward with peace talks.
Asked her response to Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the guidelines were simply "putting down on paper what is currently the EU position".
The EU guidelines render Israeli entities operating in the occupied territories ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.
They angered Israel's rightist government, which accused the Europeans of harming Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and responded by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians.
Palestinians praised the guidelines as a concrete step against illegal settlement construction, which they fear will deny them a viable state.
Many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.
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