UN condemns new wave of Israeli settlements
THE United Nations, UK and US are condemning a new wave of "deeply troubling” construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
UK Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said the planned construction of up to 300 new homes for Jewish settlers was a violation of international law.
US officials said the move undermined attempts at lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
But the Israeli government said only 98 new housing units had been approved in the West Bank settlement of Shilo and it "would not change its municipal boundary”.
The foreign ministry said the units would accommodate families evicted from an unauthorised outpost of settlers in Amona, where they had built illegally on Palestinians' private land.
The settlement has been the subject of long court cases, with the Supreme Court ordering the government to evacuate and demolish the buildings, and award Palestinian claimants compensation.
"Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarised Palestinian state recognises the Jewish state of Israel,” an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said.
The US government issued unusually strong statements in the wake of last month's agreement to hand Israel $50billion in military aid over the next 10 years.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said every US administration since 1967 had opposed Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories.