Britain urges Israel to revoke settlement plan
Britain on Tuesday attacked Israel's announcement that it was to build homes for 1,100 settlers in east Jerusalem and urged the government to rethink its decision.
"I condemn today's news that the government of Israel is advancing plans for 780 new settlement housing units, with an option of an additional 600 units," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement Tuesday.
Israel earlier said it would build the homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, a move Palestinians slammed as a rejection of a proposal by the so called Quartet -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and United States -- for new peace talks.
Hague called on Israel to revoke the decision, adding now was a time "when all parties should be striving to return to talks and responding to the Quartet statement call to refrain from provocative actions".
The foreign minister said settlement expansion was illegal, corroded trust and "undermined the basic principle of land for peace".
The project's passage on Tuesday is the next step in a lengthy approvals process for the planned expansion of the Gilo neighborhood.
"With this, Israel is responding to the Quartet's statement with 1,100 'Nos'," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP, shortly after the approval was made public.
The Quartet proposed a resumption of talks after the Palestinian formally requested admission to the United Nations as a full member state, a step intensely opposed by Israel and its closest ally, the United States.
© 2011 AFP