West Bank settlement of Ariel
The settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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Governments of a number of European states came out on Wednesday against the tenders recently issued by Israel's Housing Ministry for the construction of new housing units across the Green Line in Jerusalem and in West Bank settlements.

Criticizing Israel's decision to go ahead with the construction of more than 1,200 new homes, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that Germany expects all sides in the Middle East conflict "to refrain from anything that will make the resumption of negotiations more difficult."

He said that Germany backs the European Union's position that Israel's settlement policy is "a hindrance to the peace process."

France also slammed the decision, according to a report by Israel Radio.

The comdemnations came after an earlier statement by the British government, also on Wednesday, condemning the tenders. In a statement, Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, described the new tenders as "provocative."

Burt said that Britain "has been consistently clear that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and by altering the situation on the ground."

Israel is "making the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly hard to realize. It is deeply disappointing that the Government of Israel continues to ignore the appeals of the U.K. and other friends of Israel,” he added. 

The Housing and Construction Ministry issued tenders on Tuesday for the construction of 1,285 housing units, 1,213 in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot, located across the 1967 Green Line, and an additional 72 in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The tenders are a part of the government's decision to continue housing construction, both throughout Jerusalem and in West Bank settlement blocs. While Israel considers East Jerusalem, annexed immediately following the Six Day War in 1967, as part of its sovereign territory, the international community does not recognize any part of Jerusalem beyond the Green Line as a part of Israel.