Four European nations summoned their Israeli ambassadors today to denounce Israel's latest settlement construction plans.
Although Europe formally considers all Israeli settlement construction illegal, the summoning of ambassadors in France, Britain, Sweden and Spain to accuse Israel of undermining peace efforts was an unusually strong expression of displeasure.
Israel is already smarting over Europe's failure to back it in its UN campaign against Palestinian statehood.
The Europeans were furious over Israel's announcement on Friday that it would move ahead on plans to build 3,000 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.
But what has especially infuriated them is the statement that it would begin planning work for an area east of Jerusalem known as E1.
Building there would sever the link between the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
It would also cut off the north of the West Bank from its southern flank.
The Palestinians say construction in that territory would kill any hope for of a viable state of Palestine.
Successive US governments have agreed and, under intense pressure, Israel has avoided building settlements in the area.
After a flurry of angry phone calls from European capitals to Israel over the weekend, France summoned the Israeli ambassador today morning.
France, which was the first European country to announce support for the UN vote, also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the settlement decision "a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution."
Britain, which abstained in the UN, summoned Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub to the Foreign Office.
And Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told his parliament that "together with other EU countries we will discuss other potential steps," but he would not elaborate.
Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath praised the Europeans for taking action.
"We've been expecting this kind of behaviour for a long time," said Mr Shaath.
"For this to come from France and England is very beneficial to us.
"We highly appreciate it and are hoping the US will follow their lead."
Germany also expressed concern over the Israeli move but wouldn't say whether it had taken any direct measures.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany took a "very negative view" of the settlement announcement, which undermined peace efforts.
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