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France Urges Israel to Reconsider East Jerusalem Building Plans

France is 'deeply disappointed' by Israel's approval of 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem, French Foreign Ministry spokesman says.

France expressed "deep disappointment" with Israeli plans to resume settlement construction in East Jerusalem and urged the government to reconsider, the French news agency AFP reported on Saturday.

"This decision is inopportune. France is deeply disappointed," AFP quoted French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero as saying in a statement.

Construction in the West Bank.
Nir Kafri

"France calls on the Israeli authorities to reconsider this decision," he said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos had called on Israel to halt its settlement construction during a visit earlier this week.

Israel approved tenders for the construction of 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem on Friday, a move that triggered widespread condemnation by the international community.

The United States on Friday also expressed "disappointment" by Israel's approval of new settlement construction, saying "it is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."

Earlier Saturday, Egypt said that Israel's building permits for 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem are a sign that direct peace talks could collapse. On Friday, the Arab League said it may ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state if Israel goes ahead with building settlements.

Also on Saturday, the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned Israel for renewing settlement construction in East Jerusalem and urged the international community to put an end to what it called "Israeli arrogance."