(PresidentialInsider.com)- Last week Israel approved around three thousand new homes in the West Bank, just one day after the United States issued its strongest rebuke over such construction.
The settlement plans, which were approved by a Defense Ministry committee, mark the latest boost for Israel’s half-century-old settlement enterprise on what the Palestinians call “occupied lands.”
President Biden took office pledging to take a harder line on Israeli settlements. And some believe this new settlement announcement runs contrary to Israel’s new coalition government’s vow to reduce tensions with the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded the international community take a “decisive stance” on the Israeli decision, calling the new settlement construction a “message of disdain for the efforts of the US administration.”
Who doesn’t have disdain for the US administration?
The Trump administration abandoned the decades-long US position that Israeli settlements were “illegitimate.” As such, during the Trump years, Israel embarked on an aggressive settlement expansion, advancing plans for more than 12,000 homes in 2020 alone.
No doubt last week’s decision will raise friction with both European countries and the United States. One day before Israel’s announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had voiced opposition to the plan during a phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The State Department also said that it was “deeply concerned” about the plans to advance new settlement homes, including those deep inside the West Bank.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters last Tuesday that the Biden administration strongly opposes the expansion of settlements which he claimed are “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm.” Price said that expanding settlements would damage any prospect for a two-state solution.
And by “two-state solution,” the Palestinians mean taking back the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem — areas Israel won during the 1967 War.
A former Palestinian official, Sabri Saidam, accused the Biden administration of being “almost absent” as Israel pushes ahead with the construction of these new settlements.
Yes, well, the Biden administration is largely absent from everything.
The Palestinians view the settlements, which house approximately 700,000 Israelis, as the main obstacle to peace, while many in the international community consider them “illegal.”