The United Kingdom on Saturday weighed in on a new Israeli settlement
expansion plan, urging the government "to reverse the decision."
UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "extremely concerned"
by reports that the government had approved the construction of 3,000
new housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday, in response
to the successful Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations
The inner cabinet also
decided to give the go ahead for the planning of thousands of housing units
in area E1 that connects Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust
between the parties," Hague stated. He warned that if implemented, the
plans "would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the
two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly
difficult to achieve."
He also cautioned that the move would
undermine the Jewish state's international reputation and sow seeds of
doubt about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the
Hague stressed that "the window for a two-state
solution is closing," and emphasized the need for Israelis, Palestinians
and the international community to ramp up efforts to achieve a return
to negotiations. "...Not actions which will make that harder,” he
Hague's statement echoed a White House reaction
to the Israeli decision, delivered on Friday night. The United States
called the plan "counterproductive" and said it could make it harder to
bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and east Jerusalem
construction and announcements," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor
"We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it
harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution,"
Vietor said. "Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all
parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve."
Last week, Washington urged Israel
not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem
and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian UN bid.
in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh
Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various
Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat
condemned the building plans on Friday, saying they ran counter to
efforts to restart the peace process.
"While the Palestinians are
doing everything possible to keep the two-state solution alive,
including with our vote in the United Nations, yesterday, the Israeli
government is doing everything possible to destroy it," Erekat stated.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.