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France, UK summon Israeli ambassadors over settlements

Dec. 3, 2012 1:30 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 10:10 A.M.)
PARIS (Reuters) -- France and Britain on Monday summoned their Israeli ambassadors to express concerns over Israel's plans to expand Jewish settlements after Palestine won de facto UN recognition of statehood.

"The ambassador has been summoned in order to express our disapproval," French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said. The Israeli embassy also confirmed the meeting.

A ministry official brushed off reports that France could recall its own envoy in Jerusalem and said Paris was looking at other ways of putting pressure on Netanyahu.

"There are other ways in which we can express our disapproval," the official told Reuters.

In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "The Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, has been formally summoned to the Foreign Office this morning by the Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt."

"The Minister set out the depth of the UK's concerns," the spokesman said.

"Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and European Union," he added.

Germany urged Israel to refrain from expanding settlements and Russia said it viewed plans to put more new homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem with serious concern.

Israel said on Friday it would build thousands of new settler homes, including in a wedge zone between Jerusalem and the West Bank, known as E1, which Washington considers especially sensitive.

France and Britain have both condemned Israel's plans, saying international confidence in Israel's desire to make peace with the Palestinians was at risk.

Netanyahu has dismissed world condemnation of his latest settlement plans, which were announced on Friday just hours after the United Nations voted overwhelming to upgrade the Palestinians' diplomatic status.
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