Five European countries, including Britain, have registered formal protests with Israeli ambassadors over last week’s decision by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to build 3,000 settlers’ homes and develop an area of the West Bank that could render a Palestinian state unviable.

Along with Australia and Brazil, they were joined by Egypt, threatening to destabilise its fragile regional relations. …

Britain, France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark all summoned Israeli envoys on Tuesday to protest over the settlement plans, while Germany and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, denounced it.

The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted unnamed Israeli diplomats as saying the outcry could not have occurred without the complicity of the Obama administration, which has profound differences with Mr Netanyahu over settlements.