Britain, Australia and Canada expressed in a joint statement on Friday their “serious concern” over the Israeli government’s approval of establishing new settlement units in the West Bank, and the continuation of the cycle of violence.
“The continued expansion of settlements constitutes an obstacle to peace and negatively affects efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution. We call on the government of Israel to reverse these decisions,” the statement said.
Last Monday, the Israeli government agreed to Plans to build thousands of new homes in settlements in the occupied West Banka move that threatened to exacerbate increasingly strained relations with the United States.
The decision challenged the growing US criticism of the Israeli settlement policies in the occupied territories, which are witnessing an escalation in tension.
Several Israeli media outlets said that the Planning Committee of the Ministry of Defense, which oversees the construction of the settlements, approved the construction of more than 5,000 new homes in the settlements. These units are in various stages of planning, and it was not immediately clear when construction would begin.
The international community, along with the Palestinians, considers settlement construction illegal or illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. More than 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem – lands Israel occupied in 1967.
The Israeli government, which took office in late December, is dominated by religious and nationalist politicians with close ties to the settler movement.
President Joe Biden’s administration has been increasingly vocal in its criticism of Israeli settlement policies, repeatedly calling on Israel to halt construction. Despite the criticism, the United States has taken little action against its close ally.
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