Israel slammed by EU after backing 4,400 new settler buildings in occupied West Bank
Permission was given by Israeli planning authorities for 2,791 units, with a further 1,636 receiving early backing, according to Israeli two-state solution group Peace Now.
Israel also gave retrospective authorisation to three illegal settlements, even though all settlement activity is a breach of international law.
EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell said in a Thursday statement that the union "condemns and deeply deplores" the decision on the more than 4,400 total housing units and the retrospective settlement approval.
"The EU urges Israel to reverse such decisions, which run counter to international law; directly threaten the two-state solution; and are completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions," he added.
"The EU calls on both parties to work on ways to prepare the ground for the necessary resumption of a political process without which there will be no real peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike."
There are almost 700,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and they often subject local Palestinians to violence.
UK, US and EU officials have been criticised for their responses to Israel's killing of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh https://t.co/Mmc3tMYKiK— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) May 12, 2022
In Masafer Yatta, an area near Hebron city where over 1,000 Palestinians are faced with expulsion by Israel, settlers attacked a shepherd and broke his sheep's legs last week, a local activist told media.
The international community has repeatedly condemned Israel over its illegal settlements but pro-Palestine campaigners and rights defenders say this is not enough.
They urge sanctions to pressure Israel into compliance with international law.