Ma'ale_Adumim settlement

Ma’ale Adumim settlement

The United Kingdom has joined the United States and other European nations in blasting Israel’s decision to build yet more housing units beyond the Green Line, saying it was “ill-judged” and illegal.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The UK deplores the Israeli government’s decision to advance plans for 2,610 settlement units in Givat Hamatos.

“This is an ill-judged decision which will have serious implications for the possibility of Jerusalem being a shared capital in a future two-state peace agreement.”

And in a stunning that echoed US criticism, he added: “If this development is built it will damage the prospect of a two-state solution, and it will make it more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not serious about peace.”

It comes after the White House shocked observers with a similarly veiled threat, when it said the move would distance Israel from “even its closest allies” and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed the criticism, saying other countries should learn “the facts on the ground” before commenting.

“First of all, these are not settlements,” said Netanyahu. “These are neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighbourhoods and we have Jewish neighbourhoods.”