Switzerland voices concern over new Israeli plan to expand illegal settlements
Switzerland on Thursday urged Israel to "renounce" its recent decision to approve nine illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank and build nearly 10,000 new settlement units to house Israeli settlers.
All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory violate international law. Until Sunday, even Israel viewed the nine outposts as illegal.
Switzerland said it was "concerned" in a statement by its foreign ministry, adding "these projects are illegal under international law".
"Switzerland calls on Israel to renounce these unilateral measures, which risk further exacerbating tensions and endanger a negotiated two-state solution," the statement said.
"There is an urgent need to restore a political horizon towards a lasting peace based on international law."
The Swiss response comes as the UN Security Council considers a Palestinian-backed UN draft resolution which demands an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement activities.
The resolution, a copy of which was obtained on Thursday by The Associated Press, would demand an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement activities, condemn Israeli attempts to annex settlements and outposts, and "call for their immediate reversal".
The council is "likely" to vote on the resolution on Monday, The New Arab's Arabic sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Friday.
It also follows a joint statement on Tuesday by the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy, who said they were "deeply troubled" by the Israeli announcement.
"We strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution," they said.
Qatar on Monday said it "condemns in the strongest terms" the moves, saying "this step is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, the principles of international law, and relevant United Nations resolutions".
Turkey also issued a condemnation, calling on Israel to "end its action which may trigger a new spiral of violence in the region and contravene international law and the established UN parameters".
Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its "rejection of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories" in a statement posted to Twitter that did not directly reference the Israeli announcement.
Egypt and Jordan separately condemned the moves in statements posted to Twitter, with Cairo saying it condemns the decision "in the strongest terms".
Israel's moves came on the heels of a visit to the region by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. During his trip, Blinken explicitly warned against settlement activity.
There are now more than half a million Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, a pro-settler group said earlier this month.
The report, by WestBankJewishPopulationStats.com and based on official figures, showed the settler population grew to 502,991 as of 1 January, rising more than 2.5 percent in 12 months and nearly 16 percent over the last five years.
The settler population report does not include East Jerusalem - which Israel illegally annexed in 1980 in a move not recognised by the international community - where more than 200,000 settlers live.
The West Bank and East Jerusalem are together home to some three million Palestinians.
Agencies contributed to this report.