Germany, France, EU and Britain Severely Condemn Establishment of New Settlement for Amona Evacuees

In coordinated statements, European countries don't mention Israeli cabinet's decision to restrict construction in the settlements.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 23, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 23, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. KENA BETANCUR/AFP

Germany, France and Britain issued coordinated condemnations on Friday of an Israeli government decision to establish a new settlement for the evacuees of the Amona illegal outpost, as well as decisions to market land for 2,000 new housing units in the West Bank and to declare 900 dunams near the settlement of Eli as state lands.

The three European countries did not mention the new policy to restrain construction in the settlements, also adopted by the cabinet.  

The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the decision to establish a new settlement for the first time in over 20 years undermines Germany's faith in Israel's wish to reach a two-state solution through negotiations. The German spokesperson noted that it was the great importance Germany places by Israel's security that made it very concerned over the decision to establish a new settlement. "The federal government expects the Israeli government to clarify which solution they are pursuing for a lasting peace with the Palestinians," the spokesperson said. "Germany will not recognize any change in the 1967 lines, which has not been agreed between the parties."

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the cabinet's decisions. "These announcements are contrary to international law and seriously undermine the prospects of two states for two peoples," Johnson said. "As a strong friend of Israel, and one prepared to stand up for Israel when it faces bias and unreasonable criticism, I urge Israel not to take steps such as these, which move us away from our shared goal of peace and security and make it harder to achieve a different relationship between Israel and the Arab world."

The French Foreign Ministry also issued a condemnation. "This development is extremely worrying," the statement said. "France strongly condemns these decisions which threaten peace and may exacerbate tensions on the ground.

"France recalls that colonization is illegal under international law, in particular UNSCR 2334. It calls on Israel to respect its international obligations."

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement criticizing Israel's decision, saying that it threatened the two-state solution. "The European Union reiterates that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible."

The statement said that the EU "takes note" of reports that Israel intends to significantly restrict settlement construction, adding that the EU expects that "declarations of intent to be followed by actions on the ground."

Similar condemnations were also issued Friday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Turkish Foreign Ministry. 

The U.S. didn't condemn the decision, and a senior White House official said Thursday that Netanyahu had committed to the creation of a new settlement and the tenders for 2,000 housing units before President Trump directly expressed his concerns regarding the issue and made his expectations from Israel regarding the settlements clear. The official added that the U.S. believes that unconstrained settlements construction didn't advance the peace process, and also noted that Israel promised to take Trump's concerns into account from here on out.