PARIS – France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain are deeply concerned about Israel’s plans to build new houses for settlers in the occupied West Bank, the countries said in a joint statement on Friday.
This week, Israel approved more than 1,300 new homes for settlers in the West Bank, bringing the total to 4,000 such homes under construction, according to the Israeli settlement service.
“We are deeply concerned by the decision taken by the Israeli authorities to promote more than 4,900 units of construction settlements in the occupied West Bank,”; the joint statement said.
“The expansion of settlements violates international law and further impairs the viability of the two states’ decision to ensure a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the statement said.
Most countries view the settlements that Israel built in the territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal and as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The United States and Israel deny this.
The Palestinians hope to build part of a future state in the West Bank, while Israel cites historical and biblical ties to the area, which is home to about 450,000 settlers, among 3 million Palestinians.