Israel feels heat from Europe

Netanyahu vows to carry on building settlements in Jerusalem

Israel’s decision to approve 3,000 new homes on occupied territory drew sharp condemnation from European allies on Monday, with at least three governments summoning ambassadors to express their disapproval of an action they say undermines an already troubled peace process.

The Israeli envoy to Paris was called to a meeting late Monday morning, according to a statement from the French foreign ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot. France, which was the first major European country to announce support for the Palestinian effort to win recognition at the UN, also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the settlement decision “a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution.”

Britain and Sweden also summoned the Israeli ambassadors, and Germany said the decision would hurt Israel’s ability to negotiate a long-term peace agreement. None of the European governments openly threatened any concrete measures to punish Israel.

The UN General Assembly last week overwhelmingly endorsed an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war. The vote amounted to an international condemnation of Israeli settlements in the areas claimed by the Palestinians.

Britain, which abstained in the UN vote, called on Israel to reverse the decision as it summoned Israel’s ambassador Daniel Taub to the Foreign Office. A French official denied a report in the Haaretz newspaper that London and Paris were considering recalling their ambassadors for consultation in a symbolic but potent expression of dissent.

Germany, which also abstained, expressed its concern on Monday but declined to say whether it had taken any direct measures in response. In Jerusalem Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off world condemnation of Israel’s plans to expand Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto UN recognition of statehood.

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