BERLIN - The German government is extremely concerned about Israeli plans to build more settlements in response to the inauguration of a Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas Islamists opposed to the Jewish state's existence.

"The German government is very worried about this report because this step poses the threat of making efforts to continue peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestines even harder," German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said.

She called on both sides to avoid provocative steps and said the German government urged the Israeli government to refrain from inviting bids to construct homes.

On Thursday, the European Union said it was "deeply disappointed" following Israel's announcement that plans for about 1,500 new homes in West Bank settlements would be going ahead.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Israeli Land Administration has published new tenders
for 1,466 housing units in settlements in east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank," the EU said in a statement. "This move is unhelpful to peace efforts."

Plans for an additional 1,800 new buildings were announced on Thursday.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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