A joint statement by foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States condemned the Israeli announcement of further settlements in the occupied West Bank on Monday, February 13.
The statement raised concerns about the Israeli recent plans of expanding settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands. It added that foreign ministers continue to closely monitor developments on the ground.
“We strongly oppose unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution,” the statement read.
The statement added that the foreign ministers are deeply troubled by the Israeli announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units and intends to begin a process to normalize nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law.
“We continue to support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, which must be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties,” the statement said.
Following the statement, Israeli Cabinet ministers criticized and rejected the global condemnation by US and European powers on settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
Far right-wing Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reaffirmed their commitment to expanding Israeli authority in the Palestinian lands.
Israeli far-right new government has settlement expansion at the top of its priorities. More settlement projects have been announced since the start of 2023.
Up to half a million Israeli settlers live currently in more than 200 settlements built on Palestinian land considered illegal under international law.