The 28 countries that form the European Union registered on Friday a strong objection to Israel's plans for building new settlements in East Jerusalem.
By taking this position, the bloc has joined the criticisms of the settlements made by countries including France, Germany and the United States, who said that the construction threatens the fragile peace with Palestine.
"This represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel's commitment to a peacefully negotiated settlement with the Palestinians," the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement.
Last week Israel approved plans to build more than 2,500 homes in East Jerusalem, which has a majority Arab population. Palestinians want a state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel withdrew all settlements from Gaza in 2005 but has continued expanding in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"We stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on the latter's engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution," the EEAS said
On Wednesday the White House said that Israeli settlement plans poison the atmosphere with Palestine and other Arab nations, while on Thursday the French Foreign Minister called on Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reverse his decision of approving the settlements.
"I have no intention of telling Jews they can't buy apartments in East Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right,” said Israel's PM according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in response to U.S. critics.