Israel resisted international pressure today and vowed to plow ahead with its plan to expand settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Guardian reports. France, Britain, Sweden, Spain, and Denmark summoned Israeli ambassadors to protest the plan, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't budge: "Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision that was made," he said. In related news:
- French President Francois Hollande criticized the plan to add 3,000 new homes to Israeli settlements, but said he didn't "want to shift into sanctions mode," Ynet News reports. "We are more focused on persuading."
- Washington reiterated its opposition to Israel expanding settlements in the so-called E1 corridor, a roughly 5-square-mile area that borders Jerusalem, reports the Jerusalem Post. A US State Department spokesman said building in E1 is "particularly sensitive" and "especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution."
- In reaction to Palestine's new UN status as a "non-member observer state," Israel said yesterday it would hold back about $100 million in tax revenues from the cash-poor Palestinian Authority, the Los Angeles Times reports. Israel said it plans to use the money to repay part of Palestine's debt to an Israeli electricity company.
- Der Spiegel reports that Israel's national security adviser was offended when German said it would abstain rather than voting its customary "no" on the UN vote over Palestine. Germany said it blamed Netanyahu's unbending approach to the peace process. Relations between the two countries "have rarely been as bad as they are now," reports Der Spiegel.
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