France condemned Israeli authorities’ recent decision to build some 3,000 new settlement units added to the West Bank settlements, for the first time since 2002, in the heart of Hebron.
A statement by the spokesperson of the French Foreign Ministry said, “The uninterrupted continuation of the settlement policy, confirmed by these new projects, only serves to fuel tensions on the ground and undermines the prospects for achieving a just and lasting peace based on the two-state solution.”
The spokesperson especially highlighted work to build the settlement of Givat Hamatos and the announcements of new projects in the E1 area, both bordering occupied East Jerusalem, saying these projects are especially troubling.Construction in these areas will cut East Jerusalem from its West Bank environs and divide the West Bank in half.
He stressed that, “Settlement activity, as reaffirmed by UNSCR 2334, is illegal under international law. The ongoing settlement activity has reached an unprecedented level since the beginning of the year: The progress of settlement projects tripled between 2016 and 2017. This sends a very negative message which can only undermine the necessary trust between the parties, as reaffirmed by President (Emmanuel) Macron in July.”
France in 2016 became the first EU member state to enforce a 2015 EU decision stating that products from Israeli settlements should be clearly labeled, a move which sparked a diplomatic crisis with Israel at the time.
Paris published in November 2016 a guideline on enforcing the EU regulations, urging businesses to use labels to identify goods produced in Israeli settlements from the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which is occupied Palestinian land, and the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967.
According to the International law the West Bank and East Jerusalem are under occupation and all Israeli settlement-building activity there is illegal
Nevertheless, roughly 500,000 Israelis now live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built on these territories since 1967.