France warned Israel on Tuesday that tensions in the Middle East could be heightened as a result of the new Settlements Law.“This law could exacerbate regional tensions,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
“The law further harms the two-state solution,” said Ayrault as he recalled that in January some 75 countries and international organizations had affirmed that this option was the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.He called on Israel to respect international law, which considers settlement activity to be illegal.Great Britain warned Israel that its standing with its allies had been damaged by the retroactive legalization of 4,000 settler homes on private Palestinian property. “It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution,” said British Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood.He issued his statement just one day after the Knesset authorized the legalization of the homes by passage of the so-called Settlements Bill.“As a longstanding friend of Israel,” Ellwood warned that the bill “damages Israel’s standing with its international partners.”Just one day earlier, during a meeting at 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Netanyahu that the United Kingdom opposed settlement activity. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday also condemned the legislation and reminded Israel that the UN Security Council had called on Israel to stop such activity in a December resolution.“The policy Israel persistently pursues despite the UN Security Council Resolution dated 23 December 2016 and numbered 2334 which put on record that illegal settlement activities at the occupied Palestinian territories are destroying the basis for the two state solution, is unacceptable,” he said.Both governments along with many others in the international community believe that settlements are a stumbling block to peace.In Jerusalem, Netanyahu spoke with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel about the almost three-year freeze in the peace process.“I think the problem for which we lack peace with the Palestinians is a simple truth – the persistent Palestinian refusal for the last 70 years, 68 years since Israel was established, to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries. “This is the core of our particular conflict. I look forward to the day when we have Palestinians who are willing to recognize, finally, the Jewish state. That will be the beginning of peace and a great step forward to achieving it,” Netanyahu said.
Israelis react to controversial law legalizing settlements