13 European states ask Israel to halt plans to build 3,000 settlement homes

A group of 12 countries collectively urged Israel on Thursday to scrap plans to build more than 3,000 settler houses in the West Bank. The UK separately issued a similar statement urging Israel to reverse plans for the construction of new settlements.

A day after the United States criticized the plan, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden said in a joint statement that Israel should cancel its decision to build in the settlements. .

“We urge the Israeli government to reverse its decision to advance plans for the construction of around 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank,” the foreign ministries of the 12 said.

“We reiterate our strong opposition to his policy of settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which violates international law and undermines efforts for a two-state solution,” they said.

On his own statementThe UK said the settlements “are illegal under international law and represent an obstacle to peace and stability.” He urged Jerusalem to reverse its decision.

Israel on Wednesday made new moves toward building settlers’ homes in the West Bank, a move also condemned by the Palestinians.

The Civil Administration’s top planning committee gave final approval to 1,800 homes and initial endorsement for another 1,344, according to a spokesman for the military body that oversees civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.

Roadworks expand a road to Israeli settlements inside the West Bank, near the city of Bethlehem, on March 7, 2019. (AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed, file)

The approvals came a day after Washington criticized Israel for its settlement-building policy, and the administration of US President Joe Biden said it was “strongly” opposed to new construction in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s plans to promote new settlements, including many deep in the West Bank.

“We strongly oppose settlement expansion, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to reduce tensions and ensure calm and damages prospects for a two-state solution,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told journalists in Washington.

Last week, after the senior planning subcommittee released its agenda for its next session, the charge d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s senior foreign policy adviser, Shimrit Meir, to express his opposition, confirmed an Israeli official to The Associated Press. Times of Israel on Tuesday.

The two had a “difficult” conversation, the Axios news site reported, and Ratney was particularly concerned that many of the projects are located deep in the West Bank, further complicating US efforts to promote a two-state solution.

The Israeli official told The Times of Israel that the parties do in fact have disagreements on the settlement issue, but they disputed Axios’s characterization of the call.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, in the Prime Minister’s Office on June 30, 2021 (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO).

Several countries have also criticized Israel’s designation of six major Palestinian civil society groups as banned terrorist organizations.

Israel said its decision last week was due to its alleged funding from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

He accused all six of covertly working with the left-wing terror group, which pioneered airplane hijackings in the 1970s to highlight the Palestinian cause and is blacklisted by several Western governments.

However, it has yet to provide public proof of those claims.

“We are very concerned about the Israeli decision,” a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry told reporters on Wednesday, saying that placing the groups on a terrorist list would have “broad political, legal and financial implications” for them. .

A day earlier, France expressed “concern” over the decision. “France reiterates its devotion to the vital role that civil society plays in democratic life,” a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We request clarification from the Israeli authorities.”

The United States has also expressed concern and said it wants more information from Israel.

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