The European Union has summoned Israel’s ambassador to discuss the bloc’s concerns over Israeli plans to expand its settlements in the West Bank, an EU foreign affairs spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
“The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns,” she said.
The EU reaction to the expansion plans would be influenced by “the extent to which Israeli moves represent a strategic threat to the possibility of a contiguous and viable state of Palestine with Jerusalem as a shared capital,” she said.
But the controversial Israeli plan to build new settler homes in a sensitive area of the West Bank that has sparked a major international outcry passed its first hurdle on Wednesday, Israeli media said.
According to Israel’s public radio, a defense ministry committee “approved the program for new building in the E1 area.” The same report aired on army radio.
The project envisions construction of 3,000 new homes in a strategic corridor near Jerusalem. Construction would be years away.
Israel had frozen E1 construction plans under pressure from successive U.S. administrations. But Israel revived them last week, after the U.N. General Assembly accepted Palestine as a non-member observer state.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the Jewish state remains committed to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.
“We remain committed to a negotiated settlement between us and our Palestinian neighbors,” Netanyahu said during a visit to Prague. “That solution is a two-state solution for two peoples, a peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognize the one and only Jewish state of Israel.”
Netanyahu’s comments came ahead of a visit to Germany, where he was expected to face a dressing down from Chancellor Angela Merkel for the settlement plans that his government is pursuing following a vote in the United Nations last week granting the Palestinian Authority limited statehood status.