New Israeli settlements undermine peace process: Britain

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Britain on Tuesday slammed Israeli plans to build more than 900 homes in the annexed area of east Jerusalem, saying it undermined peace efforts.

"I condemn Israel's decision to approve more than 900 settlement units in the east Jerusalem suburb of Gilo," British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said in a statement.

"This is not disputed territory," added Hague. "It is occupied Palestinian territory and ongoing settlement expansion is illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and a threat to a two state solution."

Jerusalem city council on Monday gave the green light for 942 new homes in Gilo, a settlement neighborhood in the mainly Arab eastern sector of the city.

Israel considers both sectors of Jerusalem to be its "eternal, indivisible" capital, and does not view construction in the east to be settlement activity.

The Palestinians, however, believe east Jerusalem should be the capital of their future state and are fiercely opposed to the extension of Israeli control over the sector.

"We call on the Israeli authorities to reconsider this decision, which undermines the prospects for peace," he added.

"All those who support a secure future for Israel and a future Palestinian state should be working urgently to restart peace negotiations, not taking steps which make this more difficult," he said.

The United States, who does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlements on land that Israel captured in the 1967 war, including east Jerusalem, earlier Tuesday said it was "deeply concerned" over the development.

© 2011 AFP

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