July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The European Union on Tuesday expressed "great disappointment" in a tender issued by the Construction and Housing Ministry this week for the construction of 6,900 housing units, including some 300 units in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Karnei Shomron.

Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said that such acts go against the international community's ongoing efforts to form a peaceful solution which will maintain Israel's safety and the Palestinians' right for an independent state.

Kocijancic stated that the EU regards West Bank settlements including east Jerusalem as illegal under international law and labeled them an "obstacle to peace."

A total of 294 housing units are scheduled to be built in Beitar Illit, and 42 house plots in Karnei Shomron.

"I am extremely disappointed by news that Israel's Housing Ministry has published tenders for over 300 housing units in West Bank settlements," Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

"Such announcements that expand illegal West Bank settlements, create further obstacles on the difficult path to peace. What is needed is an urgent return to negotiations on a two state solution."

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina denounced the plan. "All of Israel's actions of settlement in Palestinian lands cannot be accepted as the settlement enterprise is illegal and must be abolished. "


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