The United States Strongly Opposes the Construction of Settlements in the West Bank

The United States Strongly Opposes the Construction of Settlements in the West Bank

The Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State stated that the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank undermines the two-state solution, and the United States strongly opposes it.

Patel, in response to a question from "Jerusalem Dot Com" reporter, regarding the Israeli occupation authorities allocating around $180 million for the expansion and construction of settlements and illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank, said, "Our views on this (settlement) have been clear and consistent that the expansion of settlements undermines the geographic viability of the two-state solution. It also incites tensions and exacerbates mistrust between the parties."

Patel added, "We strongly oppose settlement advancement and urge Israel to refrain from this activity, including the promotion of settlement outposts. We take this matter very seriously and it affects the viability of the two-state solution, as I just mentioned."

When "Jerusalem Dot Com" reporter pursued, stating that Israel is fully aware of the nature of the US stance but also recognizes that the United States does not penalize Israel for its settlement persistence, Patel responded, "We shouldn't underestimate the impact that diplomacy can have, and the potential impact that it can have, not just in that region but around the world. We, in this administration, speak with one voice when it comes to discussing this issue, and that's something that Secretary Blinken has made clear with his counterparts, and President Biden is clear about it, and others in this building who work on these very important issues are clear about it as well."

The Israeli Finance Minister plans to allocate approximately $180 million for settlements and illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank and other "non-classified areas." Batzel Smotrich, the far-right minister, says his plan will boost the economy and combat crimes that affect Palestinian citizens in Israel.

According to Israeli radio "KAN," the funds will come from budget cuts in other ministries, and the proposal is expected to be presented at the next weekly Cabinet meeting, with a government decision anticipated.

Israeli settlers build settlements in the occupied West Bank on private Palestinian lands without obtaining government permits, often transforming them into official settlements under the protection of Israeli occupation soldiers.

Smutrich's plans have been condemned after he recently decided to withhold $55 million earmarked for developing Palestinian towns in Israel, and also freeze $670 million earmarked for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Palestinians have called for a general strike next Monday to protest against the plans and protest against Smotrich's withholding of funds. Some municipalities have said they might not open schools in September in protest.

Smutrich's decision comes a month after the far-right Israeli government announced plans to approve thousands of building permits for illegal settlements in the West Bank, despite US pressure to halt settlement expansion.

International law considers Israeli settlements built in the West Bank since 1967 as illegitimate.

Since taking office last December, the far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition approved the construction of 7,000 new housing units, most of them in the West Bank.

Netanyahu's government has also amended laws that previously prohibited settlers from returning to four settlements in the West Bank that were evacuated in 2005: Homesh, Sa-Nur, Kadim, and Ganim.

Earlier this year, the US State Department stated that it is "deeply concerned" about Israeli actions aimed at expanding settlement construction.

In a related matter, US Secretary of State Blinken met with Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer on Thursday in Washington, and according to a statement from the ministry, "The Minister reaffirmed the enduring friendship of the United States and its steadfast commitment to Israel's security."

Secretary Blinken and Minister Dermer discussed cooperation on regional challenges, including threats posed by Iran and its regional proxies in Lebanon and other places, as well as ongoing efforts to enhance Israel's full integration in the Middle East. Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of positive steps by Israel and the Palestinians to de-escalate tensions and promote stability in the West Bank."