Norway condemns Israeli decision to ‘legalise’ settlement outposts

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Norway condemns Israel’s decision to “legalise” five settlement outposts in occupied Palestinian territory, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Thursday.

Israel last week said it was going to legalise five outposts in the West Bank and was advancing plans for constructing further settlements in the territory, among those Palestinians seek for an independent state.

Barth Eide added that Norway found it “totally unacceptable” that Israel had also decided to advance the approval of another 6,016 housing units for settlements in the West Bank.

He said the decisions undermined efforts to establish peace in the region and demanded Israel reverse them. War between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been raging in Gaza for almost nine months.

“Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live their lives in peace and security, with freedom, dignity and equal rights. The two-state solution is the only viable solution,” Barth Eide said, referring to Norway’s earlier stance.

Most countries deem Jewish settlements built on land Israel occupied in a 1967 war to be illegal. Israel disputes this and cites historical and biblical ties to the land.

Norway, which recognised Palestine as a state in May, has been a vocal supporter of a two-state solution to end the generations-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Interim peace accords were brokered in Norway in the 1990s.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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