Germany has criticized an Israeli decision to build 1,600 Jewish homes on occupied land arguing that it could hinder planned peace talks. The plan has also been condemned by the European Union.
Israel claimed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War
The German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday voiced sharp criticism of an Israeli decision to approve the building of new homes on occupied land in East Jerusalem.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that, particularly in light of planned peace talks, the plan to build 1,600 new homes was "not acceptable."
"In terms of content and the timing, this gives an entirely wrong signal," a ministry spokesman said. "All political efforts must focus on creating the conditions for comprehensive negotiations, to resolve the key issues in the conflict."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the plan undermined trust
Germany firmly supports Israel's right to exist and, particularly in light of the Holocaust, has been reluctant to criticize the country over its relations with the Palestinians.
Peace talk announcement
The decision to build the homes, in a strongly Jewish Orthodox neighborhood near to a Palestinian village was revealed by Israel's Interior Ministry on Tuesday. It came a day after the announcement that indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, brokered by Washington, had been agreed upon.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Aston echoed condemnation by US Vice President Joe Biden, who suggested the decision would "inflame tensions."
Ashton said that, with the promise of fresh dialog between the sides, the plan "undermines the trust we need right now."
Moratorium on building
Israel had announced in November that it would not build any homes in the occupied West Bank for a 10-month period. However, this does not include East Jerusalem which Israel seized in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move that was not internationally recognized.
Relations between Israel and the EU were recently strained after a murder in Dubai, linked with the Israeli secret service Mossad, for which forged passports from EU countries including Germany were allegedly used.
Editor: Rob Turner