(JERUSALEM) — The Israeli government is defending its move to build 3,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.
The government made the announcement Friday after the United Nations voted to recognize the Palestinian territories, which includes the West Bank and Gaza, as a “non-member observer state.”
After the settlement initiative was announced, Israeli Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau defended his country’s decision, declaring, “We don’t tell the British or the French where to build in Paris or London and we do not expect anybody to tell us what to do in Jerusalem.”
A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling Israel’s action an “almost fatal blow” to the chances of securing peace and a two-state solution.
The U.N. chief’s office says the building of new Israeli settlements “risks completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
The secretary-general warns Israel that the building of settlements in the area is illegal under international law.
Ban Ki-moon says that in the interests of peace, the settlement plans must be rescinded. He also called on all parties to resume negotiations towards “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…”
Meanwhile, the British and French governments have strongly objected to Israel’s plans, summoning Israeli ambassadors and calling it a “considerable obstacle to the two-state solution.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Holly Yan, CNN