Britain's Foreign Secretary has expressed his disappointment with Israel following the announcement on Tuesday that tenders would be issued for housing development in the West Bank.
William Hague said that the construction of more than 300 housing units for the areas of Beitar Ilit and Karnei Shomron would "create further obstacles on the difficult path to peace".
Mr Hague added: "What is needed is an urgent return to negotiations on a two-state solution."
The decision was also criticised by a spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Lady Ashton.
Israel's Housing and Construction Ministry asked for the submission of bids to develop the plots, but did not specify when the bids would be issued.