The British government has said it is “seriously concerned” about a decision from Israel’s government to approve the construction of hundreds of new settlement units across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the West Bank.
“The UK is seriously concerned by the Government of Israel’s decision to approve the construction of 780 new settlement units across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including areas deep within the West Bank which could threaten future peace negotiations,” a spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement.
“Settlements are illegal under international law and risk undermining the physical viability of the two state solution,” the spokesperson said.
As such, they said the UK was calling for construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank to “cease immediately”.
Israel announced its plans for the development last Monday.
The controversial decision has faced widespread condemnation, including from Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi Arabian and French authorities.
Israel made the decision in a last-minute push of settlement approvals before the Trump administration leaves office.
Monitoring group Peace Now has said that over 90 per cent of the homes are expected to be situated deep inside the West Bank, which Palestinians see as the heartland of a future independent state.
The group also warned that pushing ahead with the plans will needlessly put Israel on “a collision course” with the incoming Biden administration.
“By promoting hundreds of settlement units, Prime Minister Netanyahu is once again putting his personal political interests over those of the country,” the group said in a statement.
“Not only will this settlement activity erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with the Palestinians in the long-term, but in the short-term it needlessly sets Israel on a collision course with the incoming Biden administration," Peace Now said.
Despite widespread criticism, Israel has maintained control of the West Bank ever since capturing the territory in the 1967 Middle East war.