Middle East

Big European powers ‘deeply concerned’ over Israeli settlement plans

PARIS (Reuters) – France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain are deeply concerned about Israeli plans to build new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the countries said in a joint statement on Friday.

Israel this week approved more than 1,300 new settler homes in the West Bank, bringing to a total of over 4,000 the number of such homes that are in the pipeline, according to an Israeli settlement watchdog.

“We are deeply concerned by the decision taken by the Israeli authorities to advance more than 4,900 settlement building units in the occupied West Bank,” the joint statement said.

“The expansion of settlements violates international law and further imperils the viability of a two-state solution to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it said.

Most countries view settlements Israel has built in territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal and as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The United States and Israel dispute this.

The Palestinians hope to build part of a future state in the West Bank, while Israel cites historical and biblical links to the area and around 450,000 of its settlers live there, among three million Palestinians.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Christian Lowe; Editing by Toby Chopra

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows part of the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the forground near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

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