[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s decision Friday to move ahead on planning in E1 and to build 3,000 housing units in the settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem, has apparently shocked the foreign ministries and the leaders in London and Paris. Not only do Britain and France view construction in E1 as a “red line,” they are reportedly angry because they view Israel as having responded ungratefully to the support the two countries gave it during the recent Gaza operation.
Haaretz writes that according to three senior European Union diplomats, Britain and France are coordinating their response to Israel, and have discussed recalling their ambassadors, a major diplomatic rebuke and a first for both countries against Israel. A French Foreign Ministry official told Reuters, however, "There are other ways in which we can express our disapproval" than by recalling ambassadors.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement to expand the E1 settlements comes just a day after the UN voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a state, albeit one with "nonvoting observer status" in the UN. The move passed 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions. Britain and Germany, both longtime supporters of Israel, abstained from the vote, while France, Russia, and Sweden all supported the PA. The United States was among the few opposition votes.