UK 'could withdraw Israeli ambassador'
Downing Street has played down reports that it is planning to withdraw Britain's ambassador from Israel amid a diplomatic row over Israeli settlement expansion plans.
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman refused to comment directly on reports that the Government is considering taking the dramatic step in response to Israeli plans for more settlements in the West Bank.
But he stressed that there was no firm proposal at present: "We are not proposing to do that."
Britain and France today summoned the Israeli ambassadors to London and Paris in protest at Israel's authorisation of 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Number 10 said that Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt had met the Israeli ambassador in London to complain about the new settlement building programme.
The FCO has said the Israeli plans could spell the end to efforts for a two-state solution to the conflict.
"We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block. This threatens the viability of the two state solution," a spokesperson said.
"We have called on the Israeli government to reverse this decision. The Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, has been formally summoned to the Foreign Office this morning by the Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt. The Minister set out the depth of the UK's concerns.
"Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and European Union."
The decision to announce the creation of 3,000 more Israeli homes on Palestinian land near Jerusalem has been decried internationally, with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon describing it as an “almost fatal blow” to the chances of restarting the peace process.