On December 25 and 26, Israel’s Higher Planning Committee approved the construction of 2,191 housing units in Israeli settlements.
The EU stressed that Israel’s decision undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the possibility of lasting peace in a written statement on Thursday.
“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement construction and related activities is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law,” the statement reads.
France on Thursday condemned the move and called on the Israeli administration to reconsider the decision which “heightens tensions”.
“The settlements endanger the two-state solution, which is the only solution that would allow for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The UK said the recent decision is “unacceptable and disappointing” and urged Israel to cease such actions.
“Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians,” Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said.
Early on Friday Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting Israel’s “illegal decision” saying that it “carelessly continues to violate international law, especially the relevant United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the UN, which forbids states from transferring their citizens to occupied land, as well as a presumptive war crime under the 1998 Statute of Rome that set up the International Criminal Court.
Plans for 82 new homes in the Ofra settlement near Ramallah – where a shooting attack occurred earlier this month – have also reportedly received the green light.
According to Palestinian figures, roughly 640,000 Jewish settlers now live on 196 settlements (built with the Israeli government’s approval) and more than 200 settler outposts (built without its approval) across the occupied West Bank.
The vast majority of the international community considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and consider Israeli settlement-building activity there to be illegal.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process collapsed in mid-2014 due to Israel’s continued refusal to halt West Bank settlement building and accept pre-1967 borders as a basis for a two-state solution.
While Israel’s settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from Palestinians and in Europe, the US administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.
According to Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has refused to comply with more than 40 UN Security Council resolutions and about 100 General Assembly resolutions.