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15 European countries urge Israel to stop plans for more illegal settlements in West Bank

Israeli security forces block the entrances to the West Bank village of Burqah, near the illegal Israeli outpost Homesh, ahead of a protest by Israeli settlers on December 23, 2021 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli security forces block the entrances to the West Bank village of Burqah, near the illegal Israeli outpost Homesh, ahead of a protest by Israeli settlers on December 23, 2021 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

Fifteen European countries, on Friday, urged Israel to stop plans for more illegal settlements in the West Bank, according to an official statement, Anadolu News Agency reports.

"We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Israeli Higher Planning Council to advance plans for the construction of more than 4,000 housing units in the West Bank," said spokespersons for the foreign ministries of France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision," the statement added.

"The new housing units would constitute an additional obstacle to the two-State Solution," it added.

The statement said the Israeli settlements are in "clear violation of international law and stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

"This decision, as well as demolitions and evictions affecting the Palestinian populations in East-Jerusalem and Area C, directly threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state," it added.

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The EU nations also urged Israel "not to proceed with any planned demolitions or evictions, especially in Masafer Yatta."

Echoing the joint statement, a spokesperson for the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said, "The UK is concerned by the Government of Israel's decision to advance the construction of over 4,000 new settlement buildings across the occupied West Bank."

"The UK's position is that settlements are illegal under international law. We urge Israel to reverse this decision," the spokesperson added.

The statements came after the EU, on Thursday, condemned Israel's recent approval of plans to expand illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"The European Union condemns and deeply deplores today's approval, by Israeli authorities, of plans for advancing over 4,400 housing units, further expanding illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank," EU Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, said in a statement.

Earlier Friday, Turkiye also condemned the plans to expand illegal Israeli settlements.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there illegal.

Like Turkiye and much of the international community, the EU does not recognise Israel's sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.

Since 2001, the EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the existing settlements.

READ: PA calls on EU to pressure Israel to stop its violations against Palestinians

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