US at odds with Israel over new illegal settlements after granting massive military package

Published October 6th, 2016 - 10:00 GMT
A picture taken on October 2, 2016 shows a general view of an Israeli building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
A picture taken on October 2, 2016 shows a general view of an Israeli building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The United States on Wednesday sharply criticized the Israeli government's approval of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The move further reduces the chances for a two-state solution, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in statement.

"This settlement's location deep in the West Bank, far closer to Jordan than Israel, would link a string of outposts that effectively divide the West Bank and make the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote," the statement said.

The statement said it was "deeply troubling" that Israel would take the action "so contrary to its long term security interest" especially after the US just agreed to a military aid package for Israel worth $38 billion over the next decade.

The statement added that it was "disheartening" that as the world mourned the passing of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, "plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two state solution that he so passionately supported."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also came out strongly against the settlement announcement, saying it was "not good" for the security interests for either Israel or the US and was "inconsistent with the public assurances that have been offered by the Israeli government."

"All that's the source of disappointment and deep concern here at the White House," Earnest said.

The two-state solution, which envisions an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank peacefully co-existing side by side with Israel, is considered by the US and many EU countries as the only realistic path to Middle East peace. However Israel has repeatedly scuttled progress on the issue with new settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The United Nations and the human rights groups such as Amnesty International consider the settlements to be a violation of international law - which Israel denies.

On Tuesday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized settlements planned for west of the Palestinian capital of Ramallah. The UN and the US have been critical of the settlements for some time.


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