France is deeply concerned over Israel's authorization to expand 2,000 homes built in east Jerusalem, the French Foreign Ministry said Monday.
"Our position is constant: Settlement construction is illegal in the eyes of international law, in the West Bank as well as in east Jerusalem," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
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The Interior Ministry's planning and construction committee on Sunday approved the expansion of 2,000 homes in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, allowing each home to add a room.
France called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks based on proposals made by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe when he visited the region earlier this month.
"We call on the parties to resume negotiations based on principles contained in the French initiative presented by Alain Juppe to Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas during his recent visit to the Middle East, and to refrain from unilateral gestures which undermine the trust necessary for this resumption," Valero said.
Barak to meet Juppe
Sunday's announcement by the Israeli government coincides with a meeting between Netanyahu and the European Union's head of dipolmacy, Catherine Ashton.
Alain Juppe is expected to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is currently in France, on Tuesday. "This meeting is an opportunity to address the continuing French efforts to resume peace talks before September," Valero said.
Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip and the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla are also to be discussed at the meeting.
According to the European organizers of the flotilla initiative, 15 ships are expected to depart from Mediterranean ports towards Gaza by the end of June, aiming to break the blockade on the territory.
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