The United States censures Israel’s new plans to construct more illegal settlements in the occupied lands of Palestine.
In a rare move on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner reacted to construction of 300 illegal housing units not long after the US agreed to give the regime a record-breaking military aid.
The new plan would “distance” Israel from its allies while it hampers efforts for the so-called two-state solution, said the spokesman.
“Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state,” he said. “Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.”
Toner (pictured above) further suggested that Israel had failed to keep its promise on not to keep up with the settlements construction, deemed illegal by the international community.
“This approval contradicts previous public statements by the Government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements,” he said, describing the new decision as “deeply troubling.”
On Saturday, the settlement monitoring group Peace Now reported that Tel Aviv has approved plans to construct 98 new housing units and a new industrial zone close to the illegal settlement of Shilo, located between the cities of Nabulus and Ramallah.
According to reports, some 200 more units would be built in the second stage of the project.
Toner’s remarks were echoed in a separate statement by the administration of US President Barack Obama, indicating that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had lied to the US.
“We did receive public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this announcement,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest (pictured below). “I guess when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a source of serious concern as well.”
The new decision has also outraged the United Nations, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saying the move would make the prospect of a Palestinian state more unlikely.
“The secretary general condemns the decision by the Israeli authorities to promote plans for 98 housing units in a new settlement in the occupied West Bank, near the settlement of Shilo, as well as for the creation of a new industrial zone west of Ramallah,” said a spokesperson for the UN chief in a statement.
“He’s particularly concerned that the establishment of a new settlement near Shilo will make the prospect of a viable, contiguous Palestinian State more remote,” read the statement. “Settlements are illegal under international law, and such decisions run counter to Quartet recommendations. The secretary general urges Israel to halt and reverse such counterproductive decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlements expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of their future independent state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The new decision came after the US agreed to pay Israel $38 billion in military assistance during the course of the next 10 years, marking the largest military deal with Tel Aviv in the US history on September 15.