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UK Minister Urges Israel to Stop West Bank Settlement Construction

© AP Photo / Dusan VranicPeople pass by the "The Walled Off Hotel" and the Israeli security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem
People pass by the The Walled Off Hotel and the Israeli security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Minister for Middle East Alistair Burt on Thursday condemned Israel's continued construction of settlements across the West Bank, calling on Israeli authorities to stop this activity.

"I call on Israel to halt such counterproductive action, and for all parties to commit to further efforts to de-escalate current tensions and create the right environment for a just and lasting peace," Burt said in a statement.

The UK minister stressed that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law and were one of the obstacles to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The European Union also condemned Israel's plans on construction of new housing units in the West Bank settlements.

"Within the past two weeks, the Israeli authorities have advanced plans and tenders for over two thousand settlement units in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. If implemented, these plans would further jeopardize the prospect of a contiguous and viable future Palestinian state. As reflected in successive Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, the EU is strongly opposed to Israel's settlement policy which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace," a spokesperson for EU External Action Service said.

The statements referred to Wednesday's media reports, claiming that Israel's Civil Administration approved the construction of some 1,000 housing units in the West Bank, thus continuing policies that, according to Burt, were "rightly condemned internationally."

Israeli soldiers stand near the border with Gaza. (File) - Sputnik International
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For decades, Israel has been in conflict with the Palestinians, who have been seeking diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip.

In December 2016, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, expressing concern over Israel's continuing settlement activities, which "imperiled the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines."

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