Israel’s plans to build a further 900 homes in the Gilo settlement has triggered a fresh rift with Washington whose response has been forthright.
The White House has accused Israel of undermining President Obama’s efforts to resume peace talks which have stalled since December and said they are “dismayed” at the proposals. The settlement on the West Bank is on occupied territory and considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved the expansion in Gilo just days after he warned Palestine over its proposals to seek backing from the UN to recognise a Palestinian state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, stressed he has the backing of all the Arab states for their plan to go to the UN for international support for an independent state. European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels to discuss the issue, have for the moment rejected the idea saying any hasty moves should be avoided. Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief: ‘‘That has to be done with time and calm in the appropriate moment. I don’t think today is the moment to talk about that and I don’t think anybody is looking for that today.” The plans for more homes in Gilo has hit further any progress that is taking place between the US, Palestinians and Israelis on renewing peace talks.