Britain, France summon Israeli envoys in wake of housing approvals

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Britain and France have summoned their Israeli ambassadors to protest Israel’s decision to authorize housing construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

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The ambassadors were summoned on Monday, amid reports that the two countries would recall their envoys in Israel for consultations.

Sweden also has summoned its Israel ambassador, according to reports.

“We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block. This threatens the viability of the two state solution,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement, threatening a “strong reaction” if construction goes ahead.

The E1 corridor connects Jerusalem to the large Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, and is a piece of land which the Palestinians say is necessary to keep the borders of their as yet-established Palestinian state contiguous.

Britain is also considering suspending trade agreements with Israel, based on human rights protections, to protest the housing approval, Sky News reported.

“We will carry on building in Jerusalem and in all the places that are on the map of Israel’s strategic interests,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The authorization for the housing planning reportedly was made by the nine-member security Cabinet on the evening of Nov. 29 in the hours after the United Nations General Assembly approved enhanced observer statehood status for the Palestinians.

The approval has also been condemned by the United States and the United Nations, in addition to other European countries.

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