Jerusalem: Britain and France are thinking over to take action, possibly including the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors from Israel, in response to Israel’s announcement of settlement expansion, a report said on Monday.
Israel continued with retaliatory measures against the Palestinian Authority (PA) following their successful bid at the United Nations to win a non-member state observer status, the Reuters quoted daily Heeratz.
A day after PA’s successful bid at the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision on Friday to move ahead with plans for E1 and to build 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements has apparently “shocked” the foreign ministries and the leaders in London and Paris.
According to the paper, Britain said on Monday it had summoned the Israeli ambassador in London to express its concerns over Israel’s plans to expand Jewish settlements.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius summoned the Israeli ambassador to France, Yossi Gal, to express his unhappiness over the project.
French media reported that London and Paris were considering joint action which would send a “strong diplomatic signal”. However, Paris refused to confirm rumours that it was planning to pull out its ambassador.
“This time it won’t just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel,” a senior European diplomat told.
A final decision in the matter will be made today by the British and the French foreign ministers, report added.
On a defiant note, a source in Israel’s Prime Minister’s bureau told the daily that Israel was planning more steps against the PA.
Britain and France are said to have informed Israel’s close ally the United States of their reported moves against Israel, as well as other European countries, including Germany.
Germany is not expected to join a move to recall its Ambassador from Tel Aviv at this point, but it might join more moderate steps, the report said.
The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said the settlement expansion plans “would represent an almost fatal blow to the remaining chances of securing a two-state solution”.
The UK and other EU countries had warned Israel against taking punitive action in response to the UN vote.
A statement issued by the British embassy in Tel Aviv said: “The foreign secretary has consistently made it very clear that the UK would not support a strong reaction to Thursday’s United Nation General Assembly resolution that undermined the prospects for negotiations and efforts to build a strong foundation for the peace process.
The Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected the UN vote at its weekly meeting on Sunday. It described the West Bank as “disputed territory” over which the Jewish people had “a natural right”.