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Middle East

Israel challenges EU anti-settlement stances

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says four European states called over 'one-sided' view of settlement conflict.

Last updated: 17 Jan 2014 16:21
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Last week Israel announced plans to build 1,400 new homes in the occupied West Bank [Reuters]

Israel has summoned envoys from four European states to protest their "one-sided" stand in favour of the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said.

The action on Friday is likely to escalate a quarrel over Israeli settlements in the West Bank, considered illegal by much of the world.

It comes a day after Britain, France, Italy and Spain called in Israeli ambassadors to hear protests against Israel's latest announcement of settlement-building on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the European criticism "hypocritical", and in a tit-for-tat move, Lieberman said envoys from the four EU countries had been summoned to a meeting in the foreign ministry in Jerusalem.

In a statement, he said Israel would make clear "that the one-sided position they constantly take against Israel and in favour of the Palestinians is unacceptable and creates a feeling that they are only looking to place blame on Israel."

Last week Israel announced plans to build 1,400 new homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where more than 500,000 Jewish settlers already live.

Israel and the Palestinians resumed US brokered peace talks in July after a three-year deadlock.

'Obsessive and messianic'

The negotiations, which have shown little sign of progress so far, were dealt a further blow after a diplomatic row erupted after the Israeli foreign minister described US Secretary of State John Kerry as obsessive and messianic.

"The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us isn't worth the paper it was written on," Yaalon was quoted as saying in private conversations with Israeli officials.

Defence minister Moshe Yaalon apologised for the remarks after the US State Department said his remarks were "offensive."

The future of settlements is a core issue in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel says the issue should be solved within negotiations.

"Israel is making great effort to allow the dialogue with the Palestinians to continue and the position these states are taking, beyond it being biased and unbalanced, is significantly harming the chances of reaching an accord," Lieberman said.

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