World Bulletin / News Desk
France on Monday summoned Israel's envoy in Paris for a meeting in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to expand illegal settlement building in occupied territories.
"The ambassador has been summoned in order to express our disapproval," foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said. The Israeli embassy also confirmed the meeting.
France and Britain have both condemned Israel's plans to build more settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying international confidence in Israel's desire to make peace with the Palestinians was at risk.
Netanyahu has dismissed world condemnation of his latest settlement plans, which were announced on Friday just hours after the United Nations voted overwhelming to upgrade the Palestinians' diplomatic status.
Israel said on Friday it would build thousands of new settlements.
The decision to build in a key area east of Jerusalem, called E1, sparked a storm of diplomatic protest from Washington and Brussels as well as from U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who on Sunday warned it would deal an "almost fatal blow" to the prospects of resolving the conflict.
E1 is a highly contentious area of the West Bank that runs between the easternmost edge of occupied east Jerusalem and the Maaleh Adumim settlement.
Palestinians bitterly oppose the E1 project, as it would effectively cut the occupied West Bank in two, north to south, and sever it from Jerusalem, and make the creation of a viable Palestinian state even more impossible.
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