European members of the UN Security Council hit out on Wednesday at the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements illegal but stopped short of naming the United States. The Vatican also expressed that the search for peace between Israelis had been put at risk.
Our position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is clear and remains unchanged, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland said in a joint statement.
All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.
We call on Israel to end all settlement activity in line with its obligations as an occupying power, they added before a Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Israeli settlements were not, per se, inconsistent with international law, breaking with UN Security Council resolutions declaring the settlements to be illegal as they are built on occupied Palestinian land.
The policy shift was welcomed by Israel but it puts the US at odds with virtually the whole of the rest of the international community.
Courts in Israel have declared most major settlements legal.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, alongside more than three million Palestinians. The settlements remain one of the thorniest issues in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In similar terms the Vatican said the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians had been put at risk after the United States backed Israel's building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In the context of recent decisions that risk undermining further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the already fragile regional stability, the Holy See reiterates its position of a two-state solution for two peoples, as the only way to reach a complete solution to this age-old conflict, the Vatican said in a statement.
The Holy See supports the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security within the borders recognized by the international community and supports the same right that belongs to the Palestinian people, which must be recognized, respected and implemented,” it added.