France Blasts Israel’s Plans To Expand Settlements In Occupied West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he visits a settlement construction site in Har Homa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he visits a settlement construction site in Har Homa, east Jerusalem, Monday March 16, 2015.

PARIS — France condemns new Israeli plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank as a step toward further Israeli-Palestinian escalation, Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Romain Nadal said Friday.

Israeli media reported Tuesday that Prime Minister Netanyahu had signed off on a plan to build hundreds of new homes in the Tekoa and Har Brakha communal settlements, which are considered illegal by international laws. Netanyahu claimed only upgrades to the existing housing were approved.

“France condemns Israeli authorities’ authorization of plans to develop several settlements in the West Bank of the Jordan River. This decision will send a negative signal, escalating tension and threatening the two-state solution,” Nadal said at a press briefing in Paris.

Earlier in the day, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault commented on the rapidly deteriorating Israeli-Palestinian relations and reiterated France’s support for organizing an international conference to kick-start negotiations. The talks to broker a “two-state solution” collapsed in 2014.

Palestinians have been vying for the recognition of their independent state, proclaimed in 1988, in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and builds settlements on the occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations.

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