In Call With Bennett, Macron Expresses Concern Over West Bank Settlement Expansion

After Israel advanced over 4,000 housing units for Jews in the West Bank, Macron express his concerns over the matter in a call with Bennett. A readout by the premier's office, however, fails to mention it

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Palestinians built new houses in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bruchin near the Palestinian town of Nablus, in October.
Palestinians built new houses in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bruchin near the Palestinian town of Nablus, in October.Credit: Ariel Schalit /AP

French President Macron told Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about his concerns over the country's latest announcements on settlements in the West Bank. The Elysee said in a readout on Tuesday after the two leaders' phone call.

A readout by Bennett's office, however, did not mention the two leaders spoke about Israel's West Bank building plans.

Moreover, Macron urged Israel to complete swiftly investigations into the death of a Palestinian journalist killed last week during an Israeli raid in the West Bank, the Elysee said.

"The president said that he was moved by the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and reiterated France's position that a rapid conclusion of the investigation was needed," the French president's office said.

According to the Elysee and Bennett's office, the two leaders also discussed the strong bilateral relations between their countries in all areas, and the security situation in the region, with an emphasis on Iran. Macron also reiterated his determination to revive a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron and centrist candidate for reelection gestures as he delivers his speech during a meeting in Paris, in April.Credit: Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP

The two also discussed opportunities for cooperation, as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its consequences, the Elysee reported.

According to a statement by the prime minister's office, Bennett also congratulated Macron for his re-election and thanked him for France's commitment to Israel's security.

Last week, Israel advanced 4,427 housing units for Jews in the West Bank. The authorization of 2,791 of the units is final, and the other 1,636 are for construction submitted for public comment prior to final approval.

The council, which is affiliated with the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, had last convened in October, when housing was also approved for Palestinians in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

At the time, approval of Palestinian housing along with housing in Jewish settlements prompted major criticism among settlement residents. According to one source who spoke to Haaretz earlier this month, there are also current discussions regarding approval of additional housing for Palestinians.

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