The British government has joined world leaders in blasting the Israeli government for a new settlement in the heart of the West Bank, only days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about peace at Shimon Peres’s funeral.

Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said the announcement of 300 homes was part of a “worrying” new trend, while the United States went further, saying it was “another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation”.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said it was “fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state” and would “distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace”.

Ellwood said: “We condemn the recent announcement of plans to construct a new settlement near Shilo. This is the latest example of a series of worrying new settlement announcements in recent months.

He added: “Settlements are illegal under international law. As underlined in the July report of the Middle East Quartet, settlement activity undermines trust and makes a two state solution much harder to achieve.”

The Israeli government said settlements were not the major obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.