Four Security Council members, including the United Kingdom, issued a joint statement on Wednesday attacking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to proceed with the E1 settlement plan.
The UK, France, Germany and Portugal said they “strongly oppose” the decision to build 2,612 housing units in East Jerusalem.
In a joint statement, the European nations - that often ally with Israel – said: “Israel’s announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate.
“We call on the Israeli government to rescind these plans and recall that we will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders."
However, Mr Netanyahu defended the decision on Wednesday. He said: “All Israeli governments have built in Jerusalem, we’re not going to change that”.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, criticised the statement for its focus on Israel and what he claimed to be its complete disregard of other issues in the Middle East.
“Only this week…Syrian jets bombed a mosque and killed tens of Palestinians and a Hizbollah weapons storehouse exploded 300 metres from a school in south Lebanon,” he said.
“But unbelievably, the members of the Security Council chose to specifically focus on the building plans approved in Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s capital.
“The settlements are not and never were the main obstacle to peace. The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinians’ demand for a right of return, their refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, the continuation of terror and the incitement against Israel.
“If the Security Council really wants to contribute to advancing the peace process, it must deal with these issues.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called on Israel “to refrain from continuing on this dangerous path, which will undermine the prospects for a resumption of dialogue and a peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”