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European nations urge Israel to scrap plans for new settlement homes

In joint statement, 15 countries say construction of over 4,000 planned units ‘would constitute an additional obstacle to the two-state solution’

A view of construction work in the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze'ev, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank on May 10, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabali/AFP)
A view of construction work in the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze'ev, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank on May 10, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabali/AFP)

BERLIN — Fifteen European nations on Friday implored Israel to drop newly approved plans for more than 4,000 settler homes in the West Bank, cautioning that the construction interferes with developing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The new housing units would constitute an additional obstacle to the two-state solution,” said the countries in a statement issued by their foreign ministries.

“Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” they added.

The 15 European countries signing up to Friday’s statement include France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

The Defense Ministry body that authorizes West Bank construction green-lit plans Thursday for 4,427 new settlement homes.

All 25 plans on the docket were advanced by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee. More than half of the homes received final approval for their construction.

This picture taken on May 10, 2022, shows construction work in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, near Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The projects for both the Palestinians and the Israeli settlers will be located in Area C, where Israel maintains civilian control. Roughly 330,000 Palestinians and 450,000 Israeli settlers live in the 60 percent of the West Bank that makes up Area C, according to figures from the UN and Israeli authorities respectively.

In addition to approving thousands of new homes, the plans retroactively legalized the Mitzpeh Dani and Oz V’gaon outposts. The former is a neighborhood of the Ma’aleh Michmash settlement in the heart of the West Bank, while the latter is a nature reserve and education center that was built following the kidnap and murder of Israeli teens Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel in the summer of 2014.

On Thursday, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process condemned the Israeli approvals.

“I condemn today’s decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans for over 4,000 housing units in settlements in the occupied West Bank. These include the retroactive approval of two illegal outposts and a park,” Tor Wennesland said in a statement. “Continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population.”

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