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Britain ‘Seriously Concerned’ by Israel's Approval for New Settler Homes

Britain ‘Seriously Concerned’ by Israel's Approval for New Settler Homes

Monday, 18 January, 2021 - 12:45
The Israeli settlement of Alon in the Judaean desert, east of Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Dec. 2, 2020. (AFP)

Britain said it was "seriously concerned" by Israel's approval for new settler homes to be built in the occupied West Bank, warning the move could threaten future peace negotiations and calling for construction to stop.

"Settlements are illegal under international law and risk undermining the physical viability of the two-state solution. We call for the construction of these in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank to cease immediately," a Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

Israel approved on Sunday plans to build hundreds of new settler homes in the West Bank, projects it is advancing in the final days of the pro-settlement Trump administration.

The planned construction, on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war that Palestinians seek as part of a future state, was announced on Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu ordered the plans advanced and on Sunday, a government committee gave final ratification for 365 homes and preliminary approval for another 415, said the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now, which monitored the session.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the construction as illegal, accusing Israel of making a “preemptive attempt ... to undermine any effort by (incoming) US President Joe Biden to relaunch the stalled peace process”.

In a statement, the European Union said Israel’s latest decision to advance the plans “is contrary to international law and further undermines the prospects of a viable two-state solution”.

Most countries view Israeli settlements as violating international law. Israel disputes this, citing historical, political and biblical links to the West Bank, where more than 440,000 Israeli settlers now live among 3 million Palestinians.

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