The British government has blasted Israel’s “accelerating and systematic” settlement-building policy, in one of its strongest-worded criticisms of Israeli action in recent years.
The hard line, which was echoed in the U.S, followed last week’s announcement of 181 new homes in the settlement of Gilo, in East Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of Jews already live.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood described Gilo as “an illegal settlement,” saying: “We are extremely disappointed that Israel has proceeded with approving permits despite the serious international concern and condemnation when these plans were first announced in 2012.”
He added: “All settlements are illegal under international law. This announcement is the latest example of an accelerating systematic policy of illegal settlement expansion. It takes us further away from a two-state solution and raises serious questions about the Israeli government’s commitment to achieving the shared vision of Israel living side-by-side a viable, independent, and contiguous Palestine state.”
While London and Washington maintained the pressure, however, the Australian government announced that it would no longer refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied,” saying the term was “freighted with pejorative implications”.