11:12 GMT21 October 2020
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    BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain have expressed concern about Israel's plans to built nearly 5,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank and called on Tel Aviv to stop all settlement-related activities in the region, according to the joint communique by the foreign ministries of these states.

    "We are deeply concerned by the decision taken by the Israeli authorities to advance more than 4,900 settlement building units in the occupied West Bank. The expansion of settlements violates international law and further imperils the viability of a two-state solution to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", the statement read.

    The European foreign ministries called Israel's decision "counterproductive" in light of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

    "We, therefore, call for an immediate halt to settlement construction, as well as to evictions and demolitions of Palestinian structures in East-Jerusalem and the West Bank," the statement said.
    Palestinians run away from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest against Jewish settlements, in Asira al-Qibliya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 25, 2020.
    © REUTERS / MOHAMAD TOROKMAN
    Palestinians run away from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest against Jewish settlements, in Asira al-Qibliya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 25, 2020.

    The construction plans made public earlier in the week, have already been criticised as illegal by the United Nations' Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov and Europe's top diplomat Josep Borrell.

    For decades, Israel has been in conflict with Palestinians who have been seeking diplomatic recognition for an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

    The Israeli government has refused to recognise Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in the occupied areas despite objections from the United Nations.

    Tags:
    West Bank Settlements, West Bank, Palestinians, Palestinians, palestinians, Israel
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