France summoned the Israeli ambassador in Paris to demand a halt to ‘illegal’ expansion of Jewish settlements in east al-Quds (Jerusalem).
The move on Tuesday came as Russia lent its voice to the mounting international outcry against the planned construction of 20 apartments in Sheikh Jarrah, a week after the United States summoned Israel’s top envoy to Washington.
"The Israeli ambassador in Washington was summoned and the ambassador in Paris [Daniel Shek] has now been summoned to the foreign ministry," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters at a weekly news conference.
"We are going to discuss the continuing construction of settlements…These activities must be stopped. Otherwise there will be no chance to found an independent Palestinian state that administers itself and also guarantees Israel’s security," he stressed, adding that the settlements went against both international and Israeli law.
President Nicolas Sarkozy also highlighted "the need for a complete freeze" of settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Paris.
President Barack Obama’s administration reportedly summoned Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, last week to convey their objections to the plans.
Kouchner said this betrayed a "clear division" between the US and Israel over “colonization in a precise district of east Jerusalem."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls to halt what the international community has slammed as ‘illegal’ settlements on occupied Palestrina territory.
He claims Israel’s sovereignty over al-Quds is “non-negotiable” as “unified Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.”