- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Israel rejects European pressure over settlements
Question of the Day
JERUSALEM — Five European nations summoned Israeli ambassadors on Monday to denounce Israel’s latest settlement construction push, deepening the rift between the Jewish state and European allies over the Palestinians’ successful U.N. statehood bid.
Although Europe considers all Israeli settlement construction illegal, the summoning of ambassadors in France, Britain, Sweden, Spain and Denmark to accuse Israel of undermining already troubled peace efforts was an unusually strong expression of displeasure. It came at a time when Israel was already smarting over Europe’s failure to back the Jewish state in its campaign against the statehood move.
The settlement issue is at the heart of the four-year freeze in Israel-Palestinian peace talks. Palestinians demand a halt in construction before talks resume, while Israel insists on negotiations with no preconditions.
The Europeans were furious over Israel’s announcement Friday that it would move ahead on plans to build 3,000 settler homes to punish the Palestinians for winning U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine in territories Israel captured in 1967.
Israel also said it would begin planning work on an especially sensitive piece of land outside Jerusalem that it has refrained from developing because of U.S. pressure. A meeting with developers and other interested parties was to take place Wednesday, though officials have stressed that it could be years before actual construction begins.
“Israel will continue to stand up for its essential interests even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision taken,” the statement read. “The Palestinians’ unilateral step at the U.N. is a blatant and fundamental violation of the agreements vouched on by the international community. It should come as no surprise that Israel did not sit idly by following the Palestinians’ unilateral steps.”
France, the first major European country to announce support for the Palestinian statehood effort, also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the settlement decision “a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution.”
Britain, which abstained in the U.N. vote, urged Israel to reverse the decision, summoning the Israeli envoy to the Foreign Office. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told parliament that “together with other EU countries we will discuss other potential steps,” but he would not elaborate.
British officials said London was looking to Washington to take the lead, and that British diplomats were meeting with American counterparts on Monday.
None of the four European governments openly threatened concrete measures to punish Israel.
“Our ambassadors were called in, and the countries protested about the announcement about the intention to do further construction in settlements,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Monday with the consul general of France in the West Bank and asked France to press Israel to halt settlement activity, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.
Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath praised the Europeans for taking action.
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors