Israel firms on settlements expansion despite global condemnation

Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Cable car, Dead Sea and desert in Israel
[Photo Credit: John and Lisa Merrill/getty images ]
Jerusalem: Rejecting International's community criticism over plan to over plans to expand settlements in the occupied territories Israel has said it would not backtrack on a settlement expansion plan that has drawn strong international condemnation.

An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office reportedly said Monday, "Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure." He added "there will be no change in the decision that has been made."

​​Britain, France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their countries Monday to express disapproval of Israel's decision to develop a disputed area on occupied land near East Jerusalem.
French President Francois Hollande criticized the new Israeli settlement plans as contrary to peacemaking with Palestinians, but said Paris was not ready to impose sanctions on the Jewish state.

The Israeli Cabinet Sunday authorized planning for the potential construction of 3,000 Jewish homes in a development that would involve linking East Jerusalem with Israel's main West Bank settlement.

Details of the Israeli housing plan came after the U.N. General Assembly agreed to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member observer state at the world body.

West Bank residents gave a warm welcome Sunday to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas upon his return from the United Nations. They said that for the first time the world body had formally adopted the word "state" alongside their name.

The Israeli government, which had opposed the U.N. vote, was especially stung by its loss of support among west European nations. Most of them either voted for the resolution or abstained.
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