Britain, France, Sweden, Spain, and Denmark summon Israeli envoys in their capitals over Netanyahu’s plan to erect 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
By Barak Ravid / Haaretz.com
Senior officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Monday that Israel does not intend on canceling its plans to accelerate settlement construction in the area known as E-1, between Maa’leh Adumim and Jerusalem.
Following several hours of silence, the Prime Minister’s Office [PMO] finally responded to the many condemnations by European countries over Israel’s planned settlement expansion.
A source in Netanyahu’s office said that Israel will not retract its decision to advance construction in the E-1 area. “We will continue to stand by our vital interests against international pressure and there will be no change in the decision that was made,” sources in Netanyahu’s office said.
PMO officials added that in light of the fact that the Palestinian move at the United Nations is a violation of agreements with Israel, “it is no wonder that Israel did not sit idly by.”
“If the they (Palestinians) will continue taking unilateral steps, Israel will act accordingly,” a source in Netanyahu’s office said.
Earlier Monday, Britain, France, and Sweden summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries on Monday to express their condemnation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to construct settlements in area E-1. Later on Monday, Spain and Denmark also summoned the Israeli envoys in their countries.
Netanyahu’s decision Friday to move ahead on planning in E1 and to build 3,000 housing units in the settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem, has apparently shocked the foreign ministries and the leaders in London and Paris. Not only do Britain and France view construction in E1 as a “red line,” they are reportedly angry because they view Israel as having responded ungratefully to the support the two countries gave it during the recent Gaza operation.
“London is furious about the E1 decision,” a European diplomat told Haaretz.
According to three senior diplomats from various EU countries, Britain and France were coordinating their moves against Israel, which they will reportedly implement over the next few days, and have discussed the extraordinary step of recalling their ambassadors from Tel Aviv for consultations. This step has never been taken before by these countries toward Israel. It would be so extreme that Britain and France may not take such action at this point but, rather, could invoke it in the case of further escalation of Israeli actions against the Palestinians. A final decision in the matter will be made today by the British and the French foreign ministers.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Bureau said Israel was planning more steps against the Palestinian Authority. “The Palestinians will soon realize they made a mistake in taking unilateral steps that breached agreements with Israel,” the source said.