UK and France summon Israeli envoys in settlements row

The E1 area overlooking the Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, 1 Dec The E1 area, between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, appears the most contentious

Britain and France have both summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest at Israel's decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The UK said the move would cast doubt on Israel's "stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians".

Israel authorised the 3,000 additional housing units a day after the UN voted to upgrade Palestinian status.

An official close to the prime minister said Israel would not change its mind.

"Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision that was made," an official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

Sweden has also summoned the Israeli ambassador, while Russia and Germany have expressed their opposition to the settlement plans.

The UN has warned the homes would be "an almost fatal blow" to peace hopes.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: "We will continue building in Jerusalem and anywhere on Israel's strategic map"

'Preliminary zoning'

In a statement, the UK Foreign Office said it was urging Israel to reconsider, and threatened a "strong reaction" if the homes went ahead.

It said: "We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block. This threatens the viability of the two state solution."

Plans for construction in the E1 area - between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim - are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say such development will prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier warned that the E1 plans would have to be rescinded.


The British and French governments have made their displeasure at Israel's latest settlement announcement clear, and there are hints that further steps could be taken.

The threat to build in the area designated E1, east of Jerusalem, has especially annoyed Western governments - indeed, successive US administrations have been given assurances by Israel that it would not build there. Construction in E1 would pose a major obstacle to a contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank and divide such an entity from Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as their future capital.

Indications from Israel had suggested that its initial response to the UN General Assembly vote granting the Palestinians permanent observer status would be largely rhetorical. There's a sense in the air that the diplomatic climate is changing but no real evidence as yet that Washington - the critical player - is again ready to invest in the elusive quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"It would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution," Mr Ban said.

An Israeli official has described the proposals in the E1 zone as "preliminary zoning and planning work".

The Israeli envoy to Paris was summoned to a meeting on Monday morning, French foreign ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot, said in a statement.

The BBC's Peter Biles says the UK is coordinating closely with France in sending a clear warning signal to Israel, but he says a suggestion in the Israeli press that Britain and France may recall their ambassadors in protest seems unlikely at this stage.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin: "Israel is undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate and the geographic space for a future Palestinian state, which must be the basis for a two-state solution, is disappearing."

The Russian foreign ministry website said the move would have "a most adverse impact" on peace.

Israel has condemned the Palestinians' diplomatic move at the UN as a "gross violation" of previous agreements with Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also brushed off criticism of the settlement plans.

"We will carry on building in Jerusalem and in all the places that are on the map of Israel's strategic interests," he said.

About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Two decades of on-off negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have failed to produce a permanent settlement, with the latest round of direct negotiations breaking down in 2010.

Map showing E1 settlement in relation to West Bank and Jerusalem

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  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    "UK and France summon Israeli envoys in settlements row".

    Er...and Spain, too...:

    [Unsuitable URL removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    The actions of Israel, at this moment in time, makes them in the top 10 of the most uncivilised , barbaric , evil nations on the planet. The UN vote was very positive & I think is a symptom of the fact the rest of the world is actually sick of this situation in 2012 from a so called developed country. The international community needs to isolate Israel until they start to act in a humane fashion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    When will the world wake up to the fact that the Palastinians never owned that land! They rejected the 2 statle solution in 1948 and waged a war in 1967 resulting in the Israelies settling (might I add, again) in the west bank - their own land that was taken from them so many years ago, and the land which they never gave up hope to return to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    The main barrier to a two state settlement is the failure of Mr Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and come to the negotiating table. Yet another opportunity has been lost by the Palestinian leaders failing to recognize the reality of Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Can the BBC ban all these religious loonies from commenting? The reality is that you have a real world conflict, which most sane minded people would like to see resolved, but there's always a bunch of wannabe Nostradamus' pulling Bible verses out of their backsides to try and convince us all the world is going to end. Grow up people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    gilmas No the capitol of Israel recognised by everyone apparently except you is Tel Aviv.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    @ Pomme frites! I salute you sir and your thoughtful and constructive arguments! Even though I may not have agreed with some of your points of view, I did accept that you argued them with intelligence & facts! Thats a lot more than most people on here! And you are right, the regurgitation of the same old arguments! Lets hope that one day soon there could be peace. But sadly I doubt there will be

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    You know what is really so disappointing to me about these constant missile fights, and land-grabs, between Israel and Palestine?

    If you go back through history the Israelites are just another Arabic tribe like the Palestinians - ergo despite the religious differences, whenever either side attacks the other they only highlight the fact that Arabs appear unable to live together!

    Really sad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    Israel belongs to the Jews. It was promised to them via Moses. Ezekiel 37 tells us that God will once again bring them back from the nations to their own land. The prophecy was fulfilled in 1947.
    Leave them alone to live in peace. Israel is theirs. God has blessed that country richly with oil, gas, there's a thought.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    The Bible refers to God giving all this land to Israel for all time. The Palastinians were given land in Jordon. They were kicked out of Jordon by King Hussein for terrorist attacks on his people. They have been offered land in Egypt but won't move because they are racsists and want to terrorise Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    14 Minutes ago
    People who freely throw about the "apartheid" slander.


    How can it be a slander?

    Jews & Palestinians live under a different set of rules from each other, imposed by a central authority, decided purely on religous & ethnic differences.

    That is the definition of 'apartheid' .

    If Israel doesn't like the term they should stop doing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    The Arabs have 21 countries. The Muslims have 56. The Jews have only one (1) very tiny country!
    In addition, there are 5 times as many Arabs living in "Palestine" today as was the case in 1948: some 6 million today versus 1.2 million in '48. The Arabs have plenty of options. The Jews have only one: ISRAEL!

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    Well the same old arguments on both sides are now being posted and reposted, which is generally my cue to leave :D. So good luck to both sides in this argument and if there is god please smile on us logical moderates in the middle, because there does not seem to be many of us…not on this site anyhow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    I think you confuse religion with sovereignty.
    Religions dont have countries."
    You may be confusing religion with a people.The Jewish people-observant & non, have a homeland.Just in my parent's generation they were hounded,murdered,& almost exterminated in modern Europe.We may have short memories, but the Jews do not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    ref #682

    No moselms Israelis, or Christians have been put in shanty towns either.

    the ignorance of the Pro Palestinians is not surprising haters are among the least educated, they actually believe the Nbaka is true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    "702. Dr Bob Matthews ..1 Minute ago 648.Ian Your total ignorance of the legality of UN resolutions explains your support for a state not concerned with the niceities of international law, "-------
    No,I am not ignorant of the facts.I stated that GENERAL ASSEMBLY Resolutions have no legal is made by the SECURITY COUNCIL.That is a FACT whether you like it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    If the Israeli Government wants to be judged by different standards to the arab dictatorships, it needs to act differently. It should state what parts of Israel it intends to give to the palestinians in return for keeping SOME of its west bank settlements. A two state solution will happen eventually - we negotiated with the IRA, we speak to the ex-stern gang.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    703. redand2000 - Where are Jews commiting genocide? You might want to look up the population figures in the "disputed Palestinian territories" and the life expectancy rates there and the surrounding countries.

    698. michellegrand - You are implying that no jew should live beyond the "Green Line". You need to ask yourself why you think this is a reasonable point of view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    691"Israel is the bully boy in the region.
    They break international law,
    They ignore UN resolutions,
    They keep Palestinians in a state of seige.
    They illegally occupy Palestininan land.
    They think they are above the law
    They are the weeping sore that needs healing"

    Just who do they think they are, 18th century Britain?
    A crime on which the sun never set for 400 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    Britain helped create the state of Israel - what do they did they expect?


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