Israel Says No Retreat on Settlement Plans

Posted December 3rd, 2012 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Israel says it will not backtrack on a settlement expansion plan that has drawn strong international condemnation.

An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Monday “Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure.” He said “there will be no change in the decision that has been made.”

Britain, France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their countries Monday to express disapproval of Israel's decision to develop a disputed area on occupied land near East Jerusalem.

French President Francois Hollande criticized the new Israeli settlement plans as contrary to peacemaking with Palestinians, but said Paris was not ready to impose sanctions on the Jewish state.

The Israeli Cabinet Sunday authorized planning for the potential construction of 3,000 Jewish homes in a development that would involve linking East Jerusalem with Israel's main West Bank settlement.

The moves by Britain and France Monday followed earlier calls by both nations, as well as the United States and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for Israel to scrap the plan.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of an independent state that includes the West Bank. Israel has occupied both areas since the 1967 Middle East war and considers Jerusalem's eastern sector to be part of a “united” Israeli capital.

Details of the Israeli housing plan came after the U.N. General Assembly agreed to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member observer state at the world body. The U.N. backed the move by a vote of 138 in favor to nine against with 41 abstentions. The United States joined Israel in opposition.