Paris – AFP
Twelve European countries urged Israel Thursday to abandon its plan to build “3,000 new settlement units in the West Bank”, in a move also condemned by the United States.
Spokespeople for the 12 foreign ministries, “Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands,” said in a joint statement: “We urge the government of Israel to immediately reverse its decision.”
The speakers affirmed their “firm opposition to the policy of settlement expansion in all the occupied Palestinian territories, which constitutes a violation of international law and undermines efforts to reach a two-state solution”, both Palestinian and Israeli.
The building permits issued on Wednesday include Jewish settlements in the northern and southern West Bank.
The United States had been highly critical of these initiatives even before they were approved by the Israeli authorities.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the expansion of settlements “completely contradicts efforts to reduce tension and ensure calm, and harms the prospects for a two-state solution.”
Some 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank that are considered illegal under international law, on land claimed by the Palestinians as part of their future state.
The 12 European countries called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to continue their efforts to “improve cooperation and reduce tension.”
Paris – AFP