Five big European nations urge Israel to stop settlement expansion

Photo: AP

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel on Thursday to halt its decision to further the building of new settlements in the West Bank, Reuters reported.

"We urge the government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the occupied West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories," the European nations said in a joint statement.

"If implemented, the decision to advance settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will cause further damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian State," they said.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a 1967 war. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and most countries regard settlements that Israel has built there as illegal.

However Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, citing biblical and historical links to the city.

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