Foreign Office criticises Israel over settlement homes


Israel has been sharply criticised by the British government over plans to build new homes in West Bank settlements.

Tobias Ellwood, Middle East Minister, said that the policy called into question Israel's commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Approval has been given by the Israeli government for a retirement home in Elkana, as well as homes in Beit Arye and Givat Ze'ev. Retroactive permission was also granted for 179 houses in the town of Ofarim.

Mr Ellwood said the UK was "deeply concerned by reports that plans for over 450 new settlement units are being progressed in the northern West Bank".

He added "the increased pace of settlement advancement, including moves to retroactively approve unauthorised settlement units and outposts, fundamentally calls into question Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution."

Mr Ellwood - who attended the Israel Embassy's Israel Independence Day celebration in London this year - said that the government again urged Israel to cease settlement expansion, which was "a barrier to peace".

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