Plan to raise 2,191 housing units in occupied city's Givat Zeev settlement slammed as "illegal" by several countries including Turkey.
Israeli authorities have approved construction of hundreds of new Jewish-only settlement units in the occupied East Jerusalem, an Israeli human rights group said on Thursday, a decision Turkey, France, and UK condemned immediately.
Israel's Higher Planning Committee approved 2,191 new settlements on December 25 and 26, though no building permits have been issued yet.
In a statement, Peace Now, a Tel Aviv-based NGO, said the Israeli authorities had approved construction of the new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem's Givat Zeev settlement.
The statement, which noted the Israeli government's continued refusal to reach an equitable settlement with the Palestinians, reads: "Since the beginning of 2018, the government has approved construction of thousands of new Jewish-only settlement units."
Peace Now: Those who build these places have no intention of achieving peace and a two-state solution. The latest announcement shows that Netanyahu is willing to sacrifice Israeli interests in favor of an election gift to the settlers. https://t.co/3Qp9AHQ1K8— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) December 26, 2018
Turkey slams 'illegal decision'
Turkish foreign ministry strongly condemned Israel's decision to allow construction on Palestinian lands.
"We reject this illegal decision of Israel, which carelessly continues to violate international law, especially the relevant UN resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention," the ministry said in a statement early Friday.
France on Thursday called on Israel to reconsider the decision, saying it violates international law.
"France condemns this decision, which expands settlement activity in the West Bank," the French foreign office said in a statement.
The settlements undermined the conditions for a two-state solution, "the only way to ensure a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and heightens tensions" it said, calling on the Israeli authorities to reconsider the decisions.
UK says 'unacceptable' move
The Israeli government's announcement to "advance over 2,800 housing units" in the occupied West Bank settlements is "unacceptable and disappointing," a senior British minister said on Thursday.
"Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel's commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians," Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said.
"We strongly urge Israel to cease such actions," Burt added.
This week the Israeli authorities advanced plans for over 2000 settlement units across the West Bank. All settlement activity is illegal under international law and undermines the viability of the two state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace. https://t.co/CEh0fv4Yry— Maja Kocijančič (@MajaEUspox) December 27, 2018
The European Union also condemned Israel.
"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement construction and related activities is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law" the statement reads.
Settlements are one of the thorniest issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014.
While Israel's settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from the Palestinians and in Europe, the US administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.
According to Palestinian figures, roughly 640,000 Jewish settlers now live on 196 settlements (built with the Israeli government's approval) and more than 200 settler outposts (built without its approval) across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
International law regards both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.