Britain slams Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank

Britain slams Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank

36London, April 18 (IANS) British Foreign Secretary William Hague Thursday slammed Israel’s recent steps towards settlement expansion in the West Bank, stressing that negotiations are the only way to peace, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced Thursday.

“The UK condemns the decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to change the status of a significant amount of land around the illegal settler outpost of Netiv Ha’avot and to create a new settlement in Hebron,” Xinhua quoted Hague as saying in a statement.

His remarks came after Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon Sunday authorised Jewish settler families to move into a controversial building in the old city of Hebron in the West Bank.

Israel has also declared 243 acres of lands in the Gush Etzion block of settlements in the West Bank as state-owned land, Israeli media reported.

The move would in effect allow Israel to expand the settlements in the bloc and also include an illegal outpost called Nativ Ha’avot, which would make it in fact “legal” amid the declaration.

Nativ Ha’avot is an illegal Jewish outpost built in 2001 on private Palestinian land and is now home to 50 settler families.

“Settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace, and these decisions detract from ongoing efforts to deliver a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Hague warned.

The foreign secretary said the only path to peace in the region is through negotiations.

The current round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which started last July and set to end by April 29, has been faltering due to Israel’s refusal to release the last batch of Palestinian prisoners, the expansion of settlements and Palestinians’ request to join 15 international conventions.

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