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France, Britain condemn Israeli settlement plan in occupied East al-Quds

A picture taken on April 19, 2019 shows construction works underway in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (Photo by AFP)

France and Britain have condemned Israel’s recent approval of plans for the construction of hundreds of new settler units in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds irrespective of the international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the decision is a matter of concern, contributes to unrest and undermines the achievement of a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the so-called two-state solution.

The statement then described Israeli settlements as contrary to international law, particularly United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

The French ministry called on Israeli authorities to reverse the decision to build over 800 new settler units in East Jerusalem al-Quds, and to abandon any project that would harm the possibility of the two-state solution.

On Monday, the British government condemned the latest Israeli settlement plan.

“The UK Government is gravely concerned by plans announced on May 30 to advance tenders for hundreds of settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem,” Palestine's official WAFA news agency quoted British Minister for the Middle East Andrew Murrison as saying.

“We are clear that settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are contrary to international law and an obstacle to a two-state solution. Regrettably, this takes us further away from a negotiated peace agreement,” he added.

Murrison noted that he visited Jerusalem al-Quds between May 28 and 30, where he reiterated London’s support for the two-state solution.

On May 30, Israel's Housing Ministry published tenders for the construction of 805 new settler units in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

A total of 460 units will be constructed in Pisgat Ze'ev settlement, while another 345 will be built in Ramot neighborhood in the northern part of East Jerusalem al-Quds.   

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” in 2017, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” the US president said during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on February 15, 2017.

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