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France summons Israeli ambassador over settlement plan

AFP

France on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador to Paris to protest at plans to build 3,000 new homes for settlers in the West Bank. Earlier an Israeli newspaper claimed that Paris and London were considering recalling their ambassadors.

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The Israeli English-language paper Haaretz reported Monday that the UK and France might take the unprecedented measure in protest at the settlement plan in what is known as the E1 sector.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Following the UN General Assembly vote to grant Palestine observer state status, Israel on Friday confirmed the project was in the pipeline and also announced that it would not hand over taxes due to the Palestinian Authority.

The construction would link the settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem, dividing the occupied West Bank, separating it from Jerusalem and dealing a further blow to Palestinian hops of a contiguous state.

Four European countries – Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and France - on Sunday protested about the plan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said it "would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution”.

"This time it won't just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel," a senior European diplomat told Haaretz, which also quoted another diplomat as saying: "London is furious about the E1 decision."

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RFI

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said that it would “undermine the confidence necessary for a return to dialogue” and the UK Foreign Office said it was considering a “strong reaction”.

France supported the Palestinian status change, while Britain abstained on the vote.

A diplomatic source told Reuters news agency that London would take a decision on whether to recall its ambassador on Monday.

But the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said Monday that “there are other ways to show disapproval” and the Israeli embassy in Paris later said that the ambassador had been summoned to hear a protest at the settlement plan.

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