France on Thursday condemned the Netanyahu government's decision to build hundreds of new housing units in Judea and Samaria.
"We condemn the announcements made yesterday by the Israeli Prime Minister and Housing Minister on the construction of several hundred new housing units in the West Bank settlements," the French Foreign Ministry said.
The statement said some of the planned construction was "far inside the Palestinian side of the 1967 borders, which have been agreed as a benchmark by the International community for negotations on a future delineation accord between Israelis and Palestinians."
It criticized Israel's decision as coming "at a time when it is above all important to avoid provocations and renew dialogue between the parties."
The decision to build 800 new homes in Judea and Samaria came as part of a package deal by the Netanyahu government to relocate five buildings in Beit El's Givat Ulpana neighborhood.
Netanyahu plans to establish a committee which will handle aspects of the move, including temporary relocation of the families and the practical aspects of the dismantling and reconstruction of the buildings. Among the names proposed for chairman of the committee is Effi Eitam, a former government minister and MK from the National Religious Party who is well known and highly respected among residents of Judea and Samaria.
The actual moving of the buildings could take as long as a year, officials in the government said Thursday. Projected costs for the project have ranged from between NIS 6 million and NIS 30 million, with Netanyahu saying that it was likely to cost about NIS 14 million.
We must "respond to the families of the neighborhood in a way that is practical, legal, and economical," Netanyahu said earlier this week. "Building them new homes will cost less than buying any apartment in Tel Aviv." Residents of the buildings will live in caravans for the duration of the building transfer.