World News

France urges Israel to reconsider settler home approvals in West Bank

PARIS (Reuters) - France on Thursday called on Israel to reconsider recently issued approvals for more than 2,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, saying they would violate international law.

Israel’s Higher Planning Committee approved 2,191 new housing units in Israeli settlements on Dec. 25 and 26, though no building permits have been issued yet.

“France condemns this decision, which expands settlement activity in the West Bank,” the French foreign office said in a statement.

The settlements undermined the conditions for a two-state solution, “the only way to ensure a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and heightens tensions” it said, calling on the Israeli authorities to reconsider the decisions.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Settlements are one of the thorniest issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014.

Most countries consider all settlements that Israel has built in captured territory to be illegal. Israel disputes this and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

While Israel’s settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from the Palestinians and in Europe, the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.

Reporting by Sophie Louet, Writing by Sarah White, Editing by Angus MacSwan