France on Monday condemned the planned construction of 566 Jewish homes in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, citing last month’s anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution.
“Settlements constitute a grave threat to the two-state solution, to which the international community reiterated its commitment at the international conference in Paris on January 15,” said a French Foreign Ministry spokesman in a statement.
“UN Security Council Resolution 2334 underscored the illegality of the settlements under international law and demanded an immediately and completely halt to such activity,” statement said.
The homes were set to be approved for construction in December, but the measure was pulled from the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee’s agenda at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fearing further pressure from the Obama administration which did not veto the UN resolution.
Jerusalem officials hope that US President Donald Trump will be more sympathetic to construction over the green line, though the new administration has not yet laid out any official policy.
Israel approved the 566 homes — which are slated to be built in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Ze’ev — on Sunday, two days after Trump’s inauguration.
The resolution did not differentiate be West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, including the Old City.
The vote to approve the homes — a week after a United National Security Council resolution called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” — had initially been scheduled to take place the morning of a speech by former US secretary of state John Kerry, in which he went on to label settlements as the primary obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
While much of the international community considers these residential areas as settlements, Israel considers them neighborhoods of annexed East Jerusalem and argues that they will be part of Israel in any negotiated peace agreement.
Some 430,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.
AFP contributed to this report.