LONDON, December 1, 2012 (WAFA) – British Foreign Secretary William Hague Saturday said he was extremely concerned by the revelation that Israel plans to build 3000 new housing units in the settlements as a punitive measure following United Nations vote that made Palestine a non-member state.
“I am extremely concerned by reports that the Israeli cabinet plans to approve the building of 3000 new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” said Hague in a statement.
“Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties. If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve,” he said.
“They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”
He said that “the UK strongly advises the Israeli Government to reverse this decision. The window for a two-state solution is closing, and we need urgent efforts by the parties and by the international community to achieve a return to negotiations, not actions which will make that harder.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which issued Hague’s statement, explained the UK's abstention in the vote on the Palestinian resolution at the UN.
“The UK’s approach to the Palestinian resolution at the UN General Assembly was guided by the principle of how to create the right environment for a swift return to talks and the strongest possible foundation for the peace process,” it said. “This has been our consistent message to Palestinians and Israelis alike.”The statement added that the Foreign Secretary advised President Mahmoud Abbas not to push for a vote. But he also repeatedly made clear that Israel should avoid reacting in a way that undermined these goals, emphasizing in calls with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that the UK would not support a strong reaction.