Netanyahu in Har Homa
Netanyahu in Har HomaYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain on Thursday issued a statement condemning Israel for approving construction in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“We urge the Government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the occupied West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Settlements are illegal under international law, and threaten prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the European countries said in the joint statement.

“If implemented, the decision to advance settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will cause further damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian State. This move, alongside settlement advancement in Givat HaMatos and continued evictions in East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah, also undermines efforts to rebuild trust between the parties, following the positive resumption of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation,” they added.

“We call on both sides to refrain from any unilateral action and resume a credible and meaningful dialogue, to advance efforts for the two state solution and an end to the conflict,” the statement concluded.

The statement came after the local committee for planning and construction in Jerusalem approved the construction of 540 new housing units in the area between the Har Homa neighborhood and Givat Hamatos. Construction of another neighborhood with more than 2,000 housing units is expected to begin on Givat Hamatos.

Last month, when the Jerusalem municipality initially approved the construction, Palestinian Authority PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman condemned the move and accused Israel of trying to “provoke” the Biden administration.

In February of 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced new construction in both Givat Hamatos and Har Homa.

France and Germany both condemned the construction, as did the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, who warned that “[s]uch steps would be deeply detrimental to a two-state-solution.”