OTTAWA - Canada is standing apart from its major allies, the U.S. included, in refusing to condemn Israeli plans for new settlements in areas claimed by the Palestinians.
On Friday, Israel announced plans to build 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to punish the Palestinians for winning greater recognition at the United Nations General Assembly the previous day.
The United States, which with Canada opposed the Palestinian move, criticizes the Israeli announcement as especially damaging" to the prospects of the resuming peace talks.
Five European countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel to protest the settlement plan.
Spokesmen for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird are sticking to the same response line, saying unilateral action by either side will not advance the peace process.
Baird's office refuses to say whether the government stands by the established policy that says Israeli settlements are a "serious obstacle" to peace.