UK joins EU neighbours expressing concern at approval of 5,000 settlement units
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UK joins EU neighbours expressing concern at approval of 5,000 settlement units

Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain condemn the expansion of building in the West Bank announced this week

The West Bank settlement of Geva Binyamin, also known as Adam
The West Bank settlement of Geva Binyamin, also known as Adam

Britain has lined up alongside the biggest states in Europe in a rare and united show of public anger towards Israel after the construction of almost 5,000 new settlement units in the West Bank was approved.

Voicing their “deep concern” at the move was the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, as the five biggest European economies accused Israel of breaking international law and pursuing a “counterproductive” policy of building in a future Palestinian state so soon after having made progress with Gulf states.

“The suspension of [Israeli] plans to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories must become permanent,” the five states said. “The expansion of settlements violates international law and further imperils the viability of a two-state solution to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

They added that “it is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain”, referring to last month’s Abraham Accords.

Such visceral vocal condemnation of Israel by the big five European states is virtually unheard of in recent years, as they conveyed palpable anger in calling for “an immediate halt to settlement construction, as well as to evictions and to demolitions of Palestinian structures in East-Jerusalem and the West Bank”.

They also called for “the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334” and said: “We emphasise that we will not recognise any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regards to Jerusalem, unless agreed to between the parties.”

Their concern is unlikely to register in Jerusalem, however, because in the last few years the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has shifted its focus away from Western Europe and towards Central and Eastern European states, often led by right-wing popularists, such as Austria and Poland.

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