US and British embassies condemn Israeli settlement plans

American and British embassies in Israel condemn plans by the Israeli government to expand settlement building in the West Bank

Two western embassies in Israel have denounced as “unacceptable” Israeli plans to expand West Bank settlement building, ahead of planned US-led peace talks.

Israel is set to issue tenders for 8,000 new settler homes, the justice ministry said on Friday, and most of the new blocs to be built are in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli spokeswoman said that in certain cases, the approval process for new settlements had not yet begun. But she added that a final decision by the cabinet on tenders was imminent.

The decision to issue more tenders for housing in settlement blocs came a day after the Israeli cabinet voted 15-3 to approve plans for new settlements.

“The US and our allies in Europe and around the world must do much more to make their voices heard to Jerusalem and the Israeli government so we can have a real and transparent discussion about achieving a two-state solution that can find the Israelis and Palestinians co-existing side by side and … separate the people of Israel from the terrorists who seek to destroy us,” said Europe’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

Israel expansion at ‘extreme risk of stoking conflict’ Read more

“Such an outcome is important for both the security of the people of Israel and the future of the State of Palestine. It is an outcome that is urgently needed,” Mogherini said in a statement.

The British foreign office minister Alistair Burt said on Twitter: “Appalled by the expansion of settlements. Our goal for a negotiated two-state solution remains the aim”.

Burt said that settlement expansion is at “extreme risk of stoking the conflict in the region”.

The Obama administration has drawn criticism for repeatedly saying that settlement expansion must stop before Israelis and Palestinians can resolve a future dispute over West Bank territory. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, for an independent state.

Israel also argues that many of the new settlements are for established communities and that illegal outposts and other structures should also be removed, as US officials have demanded.

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