Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain condemned Tel-Aviv’s plans to build over 4,900 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, urging Israel and Palestine to resume a “credible dialogue.”
“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,” the five countries said in a joint statement on Friday.
They called for an immediate halt to settlement construction as well as to evictions and demolitions of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The statement comes as the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s planning committee gave its final approval for 2,166 new homes in the West Bank on Wednesday, and “pressed forward on plans for more than 3,000” units on Thursday, according to the Tel-Aviv-based settlement watchdog Peace Now.
The organization reports that more than 12,150 new settlement buildings were approved this year, most of them in the area between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday described new approvals for Jewish settlements as “madness,” with Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that expanding settlements “eliminates any real opportunity for a just and comprehensive peace.”
The European states called for the full implementation of the 2016 UN Security Council resolution 2334, which condemns settlements and calls for all settlement construction to cease. The countries also noted that Israel’s suspension of plans to annex parts of occupied Palestinian territories, which it announced last month in exchange for normalizing ties with the Bahrain and UAE, “must become permanent.”
“We call on both sides to refrain from any unilateral action and resume a credible dialogue as well as direct negotiations on all final-status issues,” the statement concluded.
The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. Both Israelis and the Palestinians assert rights over the area, however, decades of on-again, off-again talks have not yet yielded any resolution.
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