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Paris Urges Restraint After Israel Announces Settlement Expansion

The French foreign ministry on Tuesday released a statement condemning Israel for its planned expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, land conquered by Israel in the 1967 war. Paris urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to “avoid any unilateral measures that could jeopardize the two-state solution founded on international law and agreed parameters.” On Monday, Netanyahu’s office revealed its plans to build 800 houses in the Beit El and Givat Zeev settlements located just north of Jerusalem, and in settlements deeper in the West Bank including Tal Menashe, Rehelim, Shavei Shomron, Barkan and Karnei Shomron in the northern West Bank. Surprisingly, before the prime minister’s announcement, the construction was approved by Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, the leader of the center-left wing of parliament who has long espoused a more dovish outlook. The move, while strictly on paper at the moment, is likely to set Israel’s relations with the incoming US president, Joe Biden, on the wrong foot, as the unilateral action further diminishes the chances of restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.