03/12/2012 06:13 GMT | Updated 03/12/2012 10:33 GMT

West Bank Settlements: Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub Summoned By Foreign Office

The Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub ,has been officially summoned to the Foreign Office, as Britain warned Israel of a "strong reaction" if it continued with plans to build 3,000 new homes in the West Bank.

France and Sweden also summoned their Israeli envoys to their respective Foreign Ministries, with Germany and Russia issuing strong condemnations over the proposed settlements announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of the Palestinian Authority's successful bid for statehood at the United Nations.

The Dutch ambassador and the German deputy ambassador, whose countries both abstained in Thursday’s UN vote, reportedly told Rafi Barak, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, that both countries would not support Israel in future UN votes if the settlement building went ahead.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement: "We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block.

"This threatens the viability of the two state solution.

“We have called on the Israeli government to reverse this decision.

"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.

“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.”

e1 settlements

A Palestinian man works at a new housing development in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem

“This time it won’t just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel,” a senior European diplomat told Haaretz.

Burt said in a statement after the meeting: "I set out the depth of the UK’s concern about these decisions and I called on the Israeli government to reverse them.

“I also made clear that the strength of our reaction stems from our disappointment that the Israeli Government has not heeded the calls that we and others had made for Israel to avoid reacting to the UN General Assembly resolution in a way that undermines the Palestinian Authority or a return to talks.”

The FCO told The Huffington Post UK that no further action was expected to be announced Monday, until the European countries had had time to consult with each other.

Taub, who became ambassador for Israel last year, is originally British, and grew up in north west London before emigrating to Israel.

Netanyahu's office have so far refused to comment on the summons.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper said the UK and France were considering withdrawing their ambassadors to Israel over the settlement plans.

The location of the new housing units, in an area known as E1, is particularly contentious. This spot of land in the West Bank forms a semi-circle around East Jerusalem, the potential capital of any future Palestinian state.

To build Israeli settlements in such an area threatens the viability of East Jerusalem as a future Palestinian capital, effectively cutting the West Bank in two.

west bank

A masked Palestinian youth adds a rock to a barricade during a demonstration against the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement of Halamish in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh

The British embassy in Tel Aviv told Reuters: "The recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units threatens the two-state solution and makes progress through negotiations harder to achieve," the British embassy in Tel Aviv said.

"We have called on the Israeli government to reconsider."

Israeli politicians from the left and centre have spoken out against plans to bid the settlements, saying the move threatens to isolate the country further from the global community.

Labor Knesset member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned that the world was "losing its patience to Netanyahu's irresponsible policies" and it "risks the loss of support from the United States and from European countries," according to the Jerusalem Post.

Former leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni said in a post on her Facebook page that the decision "isolates Israel, encourages international pressure and will not happen either way."

"In one month of dangerous military and diplomatic moves, Netanyahu formed a Hamas state in Gaza, a Palestinian state in the UN and now, with his response, made Israel appear guilty in the eyes of the world. It must stop."

"The Netanyahu government endanger Israel."


Palestinians wave flags and pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they celebrate their successful bid to win U.N. statehood recognition in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement after the news broke that he hoped Britain and France followed their harsh words with the withdrawal of ambassadors, saying the E1 settlements "destroys the two-state solution, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and practically ends the peace process and any opportunity to talk about negotiations in the future."

The German government has said that it still plans to go ahead with the scheduled meeting of Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, according to Haaretz.