UK Foreign Office summons Israeli ambassador over settlement building plans

Laura Byrne Contributor
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The British Foreign Office summoned Israel’s ambassador for a meeting Monday after Israel announced that it would develop more settlement building in occupied Palestinian zones and withhold from the Palestinian Authority more than $100 million in collected taxes and tariffs.

UK Minister to the Middle East Alistair Burt said Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub “was summoned following the Israeli decisions to build 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to unfreeze planning in the area known as E1 and to withhold tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority.”

The Foreign Office also deliberated removing Britain’s ambassador from Tel Aviv, but has not announced any plans, according to the BBC.

Burt said he “set out the depth of the UK’s concern about these decisions” and asked the Israeli government to “reverse” course.

“The settlements plan in particular has the potential to alter the situation on the ground on a scale that threatens the viability of a two state solution,” Burt explained.

An overwhelming majority in the UN General Assembly voted Friday to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of a non-member “observer state.” The UK abstained from the lopsided 138-9 vote.

The French and Swedish foreign ministries have also summoned Israel’s envoys in Paris and Stockholm to meet with their representatives about the latest moves from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel “will carry on building in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu responded, according to the BBC, “and in all the places that are on the map of Israel’s strategic interests.”

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