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Britain, France 'consider recalling Israel envoys'
Published Monday 03/12/2012 (updated) 03/12/2012 20:53
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A Palestinian laborer works at a construction site in Maale Adumim, an
illegal settlement in the West Bank, Dec. 2, 2012. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Britain is considering recalling its ambassador to Israel to protest at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to expand settlement building, a diplomatic source said on Monday.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that France was also considering withdrawing its envoy, and the two countries were coordinating discussions over a number of punitive steps.

Both embassies declined to comment on the reports, but the British issued a statement saying they had made clear they would not support strong Israeli retaliation to a UN vote last week that gave the Palestinians de facto recognition of statehood.

"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."

A diplomatic source, who declined to be named, said London would decide later in the day whether to recall its ambassador.

Such a move by both London and Paris would represent a severe diplomatic reproach to Netanyahu. Israel's Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israeli Army Radio he was not aware of any recall.

"I did not hear of this, either via the foreign ministry or the prime minister's office. Therefore I have a hard time believing it is true," he said.

France's foreign ministry played down the report. "There are other ways in which we can express our disapproval," a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

Netanyahu has brushed off world condemnation of his latest settlement plans, which were announced on Friday just hours after the United Nations voted overwhelming to upgrade the Palestinians' diplomatic status.

"We will carry on building in Jerusalem and in all the places that are on the map of Israel's strategic interests," Netanyahu said on Sunday at a weekly cabinet meeting.

Besides authorizing 3,000 new homes in and around Jerusalem, the Israeli government also agreed to expedite planning work for thousands more homes on land near Jerusalem that critics say would kill off Palestinian hopes of creating a viable state.

In another blow to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Israel announced on Sunday it was withholding Palestinian tax revenues this month worth about $100 million.

Israel said it was taking the money to help cover a Palestinian debt of $200 million with the Israeli Electric Corporation.
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1 ) Lynx / Palestine
03/12/2012 12:35
The Occupied State of Palestine is witnessing an unprecedented wave of international sympathy, and an influx of peace activists. The word JUSTICE is missing from endless "peace" proposals signed with the Zionist entity. The conflict is not religious but political and reflect a struggle for resources. The relatively new European immigrants came to squeeze the indigenous population into cantons and deprive it of its own resources. The world is beginning to see this, and will act soon.

2 ) Lynx / Palestine
03/12/2012 13:03
For the life of me, I don't understand how any Palestinian would agree to build Jewish-only settlements in Palestine! That is beyond comprehension. I would rather starve to death than lick the boot of colonists - who besiege and occupy my own people.

3 ) Palestine Solidarity / Sri Lanka
03/12/2012 15:13
Sri Lankan Solidarity workers are happy at the out come of the UN bid. Western powers must admonish Israel at least now.UK and France has given the start.

4 ) Mel / USA
03/12/2012 16:25
London should recall ALL ambassadors &sever all diplo-ties with Israel,not ONLY because of war-criminal Bibi & his terrorists by other names,but because of the LAST 67 YRS,of what UKG did to Palestine by collusion&SELECTIVE SILENCE,while Zionism raged! UK OWES NADA more to Zionism! Zionism has BILKED the UK economy,like USA,to perpetuate a NAZI ETHOS in Israel.We didn't FIGHT Hitler to support his Zionist admirers. Right of return &UN 242!Thats MORE than mere barbarian BIBI! DO IT UK!
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