A media report in Israel claims that Washington gave six European countries the green light to summon Israeli ambassadors to protest against Tel Aviv's decision to expand settlement construction in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Israeli sources with close ties to the US Administration as saying: "The European move is essentially an American move. The Brits asked the Americans how to act." The Israeli Foreign Ministry fears further European actions, such as a boycott of goods produced on illegal settlements.
"What truly infuriated Washington and Europe," claimed the newspapers Ynet website, " was not just the decision of Israeli settlement construction, but also the decision to advance the planning procedures of housing units in the segment connecting Ma'ale Adumim with Jerusalem, known as the E1 project." Such construction will block the territorial continuity needed for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
According to Ynet, "The Americans and Brits believe that building in area E1 will essentially terminate the peace process."
The Israeli source alleged that the Europeans got the green light to respond with "extreme measures" while the US decided not to impose economic sanctions on the Palestinians in response to the UN bid. "The Americans decided to bolster [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen and push for a resumption of peace talks," the source added.
Another official told Ynet that "Europe and the US decided to teach us a lesson on the peace talks and the settlement issue." EU support during the recent Israeli offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip has, it is claimed, emboldened Europe to start putting pressure on Israel.
Ynet also reported that the Australian government has announced it is summoning the Israeli ambassador to protest against Israel's settlement plans.
Nevertheless, the report added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office insisted that Israel will continue to pursue its vital interests "even in the face of international pressure". The settlement decision, said an official statement, will not be changed.
"If the Palestinians continue to act unilaterally," said the spokesperson of the Prime Minister of a country noted for acting unilaterally, "Israel will act accordingly."