Middle East

US criticises Israel over West Bank settlements

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Tuesday (Oct 26) voiced concern about Israel’s decision to build settlements in the West Bank, saying it will “strongly oppose” such expansion on occupied Palestinian land.

The criticism by President Joe Biden’s administration was some of the strongest in years on Israel after previous leader Donald Trump gave his blessing to settlements and annexations.

“We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“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,,” he said.

“We also view plans for the retroactive legalisation of illegal outposts as unacceptable.”

Price stopped short of saying the decision would jeopardise relations with Israel but said that the US was raising the issue with its close ally.

The housing and construction ministry under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a right-winger close to the settlement movement who leads a coalition with centrists, on Sunday announced tenders for 1,355 homes in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh had urged Washington to “confront” Israel on its “aggression” through the settlements.

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