Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Israel criticised over settlement expansion plans

Israel's decision to build new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been described as "a terrible provocation to the Palestinian authorities".

Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Gomes spoke during a debate on 12 December 2012, following the announcement by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it will not give in to international pressure to halt plans for 3,000 new settler homes.

The UK, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest at the plans and the US called on Israel to "reconsider" its decision.

Ms Gomes said that Israel was "inflicting a defeat on itself" and that the only way of securing peace was for Israel to engage in co-operation with the Palestinian Authorities.

Israel authorised the additional homes a day after the UN voted to upgrade the Palestinians to the status of a non-member observer state.

Palestinians say the proposed new settlements would cut any future Palestinian state in half, claiming that it will bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

However Italian eurosceptic MEP Fiorello Provera said that settlements were not the sole reason for the conflict.

"The refusal by the Palestinian authorities and Hamas to recognise the legitimacy of Egypt to exist is the key problem," he added.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

A resolution on the European Parliament's position on the settlement issue was adopted during the daily voting session on 13 December 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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