The Trump administration condemned a high-profile plan by Israel on Monday to build more than 4,000 homes in the West Bank, pledging to hold Israel accountable for not living up to its obligations under peace deal.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced at a news conference that the Israeli government had approved the development of a new neighborhood in Efrat in the northern West Bank, as well as plans for new housing in the southern West Bank city of Beit El.
The settlements are illegal under international law, but Israel views them as integral to the country’s security and future existence.
The administration expressed its concern over the proposals, which included 13,620 new housing units over the next 10 years.
“We regret that Israel continues to expand its settlements and to ignore UN Security Council resolutions and the longstanding policy of the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“We continue to hold Israel accountable for failing to abide by its own obligations under previous agreements,” she added.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in denouncing Israel’s announcement.
“I condemn the plans to build housing for more than 4,000 people in Efrat in the occupied West Bank,” Hunt said. “We remain deeply concerned by Israel’s continued disregard for Palestinian human rights. I reiterate the UK’s strong support for a two-state solution and urge Israel to take concrete steps to ensure no new settlements are established.”
European leaders also lined up to condemn the move.
“EU Commissioner for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, said Israel’s plans “must be suspended in light of the Security Council resolutions as well as of international law.”
“This new plan constitutes further illegal settlement activity that Israel must stop in the interest of peace,” she said in a statement.
In response, Lieberman said: “Anyone who says he opposes settlements for peace is talking from partisan positions. No political party in Israel that opposes settlements is an extremist party and that is why the public supports these policies.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.