Israel Building Plan Prompts Diplomatic Protest by 5 Nations
By ISABEL KERSHNER, NYT
JERUSALEM — Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries on Monday to protest Israel’s plans for increased settlement construction, an unusually sharp diplomatic step that reflected the growing frustration abroad with Israel’s policies on the Palestinian issue.
After the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly last week to upgrade the status of the Palestinians at the United Nations, Israel announced plans for 3,000 more housing units in contested areas east of Jerusalem and around the West Bank.
Israel raised particular alarms with its decision to continue planning and zoning work for the development of a contentious area known as E1, a project vehemently opposed internationally because it would partially separate the northern and southern West Bank, harming the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state.
The move raised questions in Israel about whether the country’s leaders were putting domestic political interests ahead of its foreign relations, with Israeli elections scheduled for late January.