MAALE ADUMIM, Israel -- Britain and France threatened to recall their ambassadors after Israel announced plans to build on land Palestinian Arabs claim as part of a future Palestinian state.
Israel said it would build more than 3,000 new apartments in areas known biblically as Judea and Samaria.
Why is this land so important to Israel? CBN News' John Waaage, who has spent years covering the Middle East from our Jerusalem Bureau, explains following this report.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement to protest the U.N. vote last week that granted non-member observer state status to the Palestinian Authority on these very lands.
Israel said the vote abrogated agreements the P.A. and Israel made to each other years ago in the Oslo Accords.
Netanyahu also said the P.A. "…was waging a struggle against the very existence of the State of Israel."
Some in Washington, D.C., wanted to cut funding to both the P.A. and the U.N., but the British and French governments objected to Israel's decision to build.
"We don't tell the British of the French where to build in Paris or London and we do not expect anybody to tell us what to do," Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Uzi Landau said.
Another part of the controversy concerns plans to expand Maale Adumim, a Jewish community just outside Jerusalem with a population of more than 40,000.
Palestinians say geographically the expansion would create a land barrier breaking the continuity of their future state. For Israel, it would link this Jewish Israeli suburb to Jerusalem.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and many nations call the land "occupied" territory.
But Israel said the land is not "occupied" but "disputed" and that the nation has both a natural right and territorial claims on it.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed a crowd in Ramallah after returning from the U.N. vote. He declared a Palestinian state and announced he would accelerate ways to reconcile not with Israel, but with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
He also promised "one day, a young Palestinian will raise the Palestinian flag over Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the state of Palestine."
After the U.N. vote and Israel's response, once again the battle over the future and fate of Jerusalem is taking center stage on the world arena.