Hague, Ashton Condemn Israeli Expansion in Judea and Samaria
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned on Friday Israel's plans to build hundreds of new homes in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), The Press Association reported.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office in London Hague said, “I condemn the announcement by Israel to authorize the building of 851 new settlement units across the West Bank.”
He added, “While we appreciate the Israeli government's efforts to avoid damaging legislation in the Israeli Knesset by voting against a bill to legalize West Bank outposts, the decision to move settlers from an illegal outpost by creating housing units in settlements elsewhere across the Green Line sets a dangerous precedent.
“Such outposts are illegal under both Israeli and international law and should be removed entirely,” said Hague.
“The British Government, and our EU partners, have made it consistently clear that settlement construction is illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and should stop immediately, in line with Israel's own commitment under the 2003 road map,” he said.
“Continued systematic settlement activity, and repeated breaches by the Israeli government of international law, is provocative, undermines the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and makes the two-state solution ever harder to realize. It makes it increasingly difficult for Israel's international friends to defend the Israeli government's actions.”
Hague urged “the Israeli government to change its approach, to meet its international obligations fully and for both sides to engage constructively in the search for peace.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, also condemned Israel, saying in a statement, “I deplore Israeli Government plans to build over 800 additional settlement housing units as well as the plan to relocate some of the settlers from Ulpana within the occupied Palestinian territory.
“Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. Settlement activity is detrimental to current peace efforts, including by the Quartet, and puts those efforts at risk,” she added.
“I call on the Israeli Government to exercise the highest sense of responsibility by reversing these decisions to demonstrate its commitment toward the peace process, in full respect of international law.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced in a special statement that the Beit El will be expanded and that 300 new homes will be added to the community.
Housing Minister Ariel Atias later announced his ministry will market land for the purpose of building 551 new housing units in Judea and Samaria, in addition to the 300 homes in Beit El.
The United States condemned Israel for the construction, with U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner saying, “We’re very clear that continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank undermines peace efforts and contradicts Israeli commitments and obligations, including the 2003 road map”.
Toner told reporters, “Our position on settlements remains unchanged. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”
France also condemned the Netanyahu government's decision. The French Foreign Ministry said that 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 negotiations on a future delineation accord between Israelis and Palestinians."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)