JERUSALEM — Israel is facing an onslaught of European diplomatic pressure over its recent decision to revive a controversial West Bank settlement project known as E1, which critics say could destroy efforts to create a Palestinian state.
The governments of Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark called their Israeli ambassadors in for meetings Monday to formally complain about the project, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. American officials, who have opposed the project for nearly 20 years, are also urging Israel to reconsider the decision.
Most of the world’s countries view Israel’s settlement construction as a violation of international law and European governments have frequently issued public condemnations over new Jewish settlements in the past. But the E1 project is generating the harshest international response Israel has witnessed in years.
During a news conference Monday, French President Francois Hollande called upon Israel to cancel plans to resume preliminary planning for E1, warning that a failure to do so could trigger punitive steps against Israel.