There has been a flurry of international disquiet about Israel’s decision to press ahead with a major programme of building Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
The announcement came shortly after the United Nations voted to upgrade Palestine’s status, taking it one step closer to becoming a recognised state.
Israeli ambassadors were summoned to their host nations en masse. Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden all expressed their profound disapproval of the intention to build thousands of homes on land Palestinians consider to be theirs.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described the signals coming from the Israeli government as ‘extremely worrying’ particularly, he said, regarding new illegal settlements alongside Jerusalem. He added that leaders from several EU countries are discussing further steps that could be taken.
One aspect of Israel’s stance that has drawn most consternation is preliminary work on building in a zone called E1. It lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Palestinians say it would be crucial in any future state.