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UK condemns Israeli settlement plans

Dec. 1, 2012 8:31 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 1, 2012 10:00 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The British Foreign Secretary on Saturday condemned new Israeli plans to expand settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a statement said.

"Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties," William Hague said in a statement.

"If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve," he added.

The UK strongly advises Israel to reverse its decision and believes the settlement plans create doubts about Israel's commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians, the British foreign minister said.

"The window for a two-state solution is closing, and we need urgent efforts by the parties and by the international community to achieve a return to negotiations, not actions which will make that harder," he added.

In addition to approving around 3,000 new settlement homes, Israel also announced Friday that it would expedite the planning process in the so-called E-1 settlement zone east of Jerusalem, which effectively splits the Palestinian north and south West Bank.

The move came a day after the 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine, after President Mahmoud Abbas urged the world body to issue what he said was its long overdue "birth certificate."
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