The European Union called on Israel on Wednesday to reverse its decision to legalise three settler outposts in occupied Palestinian territory.
"I am extremely concerned about the decision of the Israeli authorities regarding the status of the settlements of Sansana, Rechelim and Bruchin in the occupied Palestinian territory," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"I call upon them to reverse this decision," she said in a statement.
An Israeli ministerial committee decided Tuesday to legalise the status of the three communities, which were established in the 1990s but did not have Israeli status.
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They will join the 120 official settlements across the occupied West Bank that are home to more than 342,000 people.
"The EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity. Settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution," Ashton said.
The chief EU diplomat said the Israeli decision ran counter to the spirit of an April 11 statement by the Quartet of Middle East peacebrokers, the European Union, United States, Russia and United Nations.
The Quartet, she recalled, "expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions, including continued settlement activity."
The United States also voiced concern about the decision, saying it was unhelpful to efforts to make peace with the Palestinians. Washington asked the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for "clarification."