European countries urge Israel to stop construction

The foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain urged Israeli authorities on Wednesday evening to stop the construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Earlier in the month, Israeli authorities approved plans for the construction of around 3,500 homes in occupied East Jerusalem, nearly half of which are to be built in the controversial areas of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa.

In a statement, the European countries said that the hundreds of new buildings would “constitute an additional obstacle to the two-state solution,” referring to international peace efforts to create a state for Palestinians.

They said that building in this area would further disconnect the West Bank from East Jerusalem and that these settlements are a violation of international law.

The Israeli ministry of foreign affairs did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Israel captured East Jerusalem including the Old City in a 1967 war and later annexed it, a move not recognised internationally.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem for the capital of a state they seek in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which abuts the city, and the Gaza Strip. Israel views the entire city as its indivisible capital.

Most world powers deem the Israeli settlements illegal for taking in territory where Palestinians seek statehood.

The four countries also expressed concern about the evictions and demolitions in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where residents say they are being displaced.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their East Jerusalem home – which they say they had lived in for decades – before a digger tore down the property, prompting criticism from rights activists and diplomats.

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