Archive: Construction in Gush Etzion
Archive: Construction in Gush EtzionFlash90

The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement condemning the decision of Israel's political-security cabinet to authorize the construction of 9,000 new housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

"We – the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and the Secretary of State of the United States – are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units and intends to begin a process to normalize nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law. We strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution," the foreign ministers said in their joint statement.

"We continue to support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, which must be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live in peace, with equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity. We reaffirm our commitment to helping Israelis and Palestinians fulfill the vision of an Israel fully integrated into the Middle East living alongside a sovereign, viable Palestinian state. We continue to closely monitor developments on the ground which impact the viability of the two-state solution and stability in the region at large," they said.

The European Union and the US had separately condemned the Israeli government's decision over the weekend to legalize nine communities in Judea and Samaria.

The EU said yesterday (Monday): “Israeli authorities announced on Sunday that they would consider nine illegal settler outposts in the occupied West Bank as legal under Israeli law. The European Union rejects this decision and reiterates its position that settlements are illegal under international law and that it will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders other than those agreed by the parties. The EU renews its call on the Israeli authorities to halt settlement construction and to reverse these latest decisions as a matter of urgency.”

“The EU is gravely worried by the heightened tensions and increased violence. In the current worrying context, it is important to consider steps to de-escalate the situation and avoid unilateral decisions and actions that would undermine the viability of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, and fuel more tensions,” added the statement.

“The EU stands ready to help the parties to rebuild a path towards dialogue and work together to reverse the negative cycle of violence and to avoid any further loss of lives.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also criticized Israel’s decision in a statement of his own on Monday.

"We are deeply troubled by Israel’s decision yesterday to advance reportedly nearly 10,000 settlement units and to begin a process to retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank that were previously illegal under Israeli law," Blinken wrote.

"Like previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, we strongly oppose such unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution," he added.

"As I have previously stated, anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two peoples is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, and to our vision of equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity, and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike. We call on all parties to avoid additional actions that can further escalate tensions in the region and to take practical steps that can improve the well-being of the Palestinian people," Blinken concluded.