Israel's ambassador to Britain was hauled in front of a furious Foreign Office minister today after Israel revealed plans to build 3,000 new houses in occupied Palestine.
Israel's government has given the go-ahead for the construction of 3,000 units in East Jerusalem and Gaza, an area labelled the "E1 block," which is already considered to be illegally occupied by Israeli settlers under international law.
Around 1,000 existing applications for planning permission to build in the E1 areas are also set to be fast-tracked.
The Westminster government's Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt met Israel's ambassador in London Daniel Taub today to set out Britain's concerns and urge Israel to reverse its decision.
The Foreign Office said it would not withdraw Britain's ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould at this stage but said further actions "will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and EU."
The diplomatic row was sparked when Israel announced its plans less than 24 hours after the UN's general assembly voted to make Palestine an observer state.
And although Britain abstained from that vote, the Foreign Office said it "deplored" Israel's latest move, which "threatens the viability of the two-state solution."
But leading peace campaigners in Britain said the people of Palestine needed action not kind words from the government.
"We are pleased that Britain has summoned the Israeli ambassador to ask Israel to withdraw their latest settlement plans, but they need to do more," a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign told the Star.
"Israel has acted with complete impunity - from bombing people in Gaza to seizing and building on Palestinian land.
"They have come to understand this will result in only words of condemnation but no actions from states around the world, including the British government. It is time for action not words from us.
"If the British government bans settlement goods from British shelves, stops British companies complicit in Israel's crimes from benefitting from public contracts and recalls the British ambassador, then the Israeli government will realise we are prepared to take action to stop their illegal acts."
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