William Hague tore into Israel today for jeopardising a peace deal with Palestine with a huge building plan for the West Bank.
In a major war of words between Britain and one of its closest allies, the Foreign Secretary summoned the country’s ambassador to his office to express his anger.
Mr Hague refused to rule out action if the proposal to build 3,000 homes in the occupied Palestinian territories went ahead.
But Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today insisted he would not backtrack on the aggressive expansion plan which could essentially cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem.
A spokesman for Mr Hague’s Foreign Office said: “We deplore the Israeli government decision.
“If they go ahead, then there will be a strong reaction.”
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt today told Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub that the development in West Bank risked the peace process based on a two-state solution which would see a return to the 1967 borders.
France and Sweden also summoned the Israeli ambassadors to register their fears.
But sources played down claims the Foreign Office will withdraw the UK ambassador from Tel Aviv.
Up to now Mr Hague had struck a pro-Israeli stance, with the UK one of the few countries not to vote at last week’s United Nations General Assembly vote in favour of recognising Palestine as a “non-member observer state”.
Mr Netanyahu’s decision to build was seen as a response to the UN result.
His spokesman said today: “Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure.
“There will be no change in the decision that was made.”