WASHINGTON: The Biden administration issued on Tuesday its harshest public criticism to date of Israeli plans for Jewish settlement expansion in occupied West Bank, saying that it harmed peace prospects between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a briefing.
“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution,” Price said.
On Sunday Israel published tenders for about 1,300 new settlement homes in occupied West Bank and authorities are also expected to discuss proposals for another 3,000 homes.
Washington was continuing to raise its views on the issue directly with senior Israeli officials, Price said.
Washington-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014. Most countries regard Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal. Israel disputes this.
Israeli settlement activity is a source of disagreement between Tel Aviv and Washington, together with US efforts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran.
Since President Joe Biden took office in January, US officials have emphasised that they oppose further expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied land the Palestinians want for a future state.
A Biden administration official said earlier this month that Israel was aware of the administration’s view of the need to refrain from actions that could be seen as “provocative” and undermine efforts to achieve a long-elusive two-state solution.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021