By Hajer M'tiri
France condemned on Thursday Israeli authorities’ recent decision to build some 3,000 new housing units in West Bank settlements including, for the first time since 2002, in the heart of Hebron.
"France calls on the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision and to respect their international obligations," read a statement by the French foreign ministry.
"The uninterrupted pursuit of the policy of colonization, confirmed by these new projects, only adds to the tensions on the ground and undermines the prospects for a just and lasting peace based on the two-State solution," it added.
The ministry said: "Colonization, as recalled in UN Security Council Resolution 2334, is illegal under international law."
It also warned that settlement plans had reached an unprecedented level since the beginning of the year, sending “a very negative signal which can only undermine the confidence required between parties”.
France in 2016 became the first European Union member state to enforce a 2015 EU decision stating that products from Israeli settlements should be clearly labelled, a move which sparked a diplomatic crisis with Israel at the time.
Paris published in November 2016 a guideline on enforcing the EU regulations, urging businesses to use labels to identify goods produced in Israeli settlements from the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which the international community considers occupied Palestinian land, and the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.
Nevertheless, roughly 500,000 Israelis now live on more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built on these territories since 1967.