West Bank: US ‘troubled’ By Israeli Settlement Expansion Plans

The Israeli government has advanced plans for some 5,700 new homes in the occupied West Bank.

The announcement comes despite US pressure to stop settlement expansion, which it sees as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

A US spokesperson said Washington was “deeply troubled” by the development.

Four Israeli settlers were shot dead by Palestinians last week, prompting days of settler violence.

Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has flared since Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected last year.

His nationalist-religious coalition has vowed to extend its presence in the West Bank.

According to the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now, the last six months have seen more than 13,000 settlement homes advanced in the territory – about three times as many as in the whole of last year.

“The Israeli government is pushing us at an unprecedented pace towards the full annexation of the West Bank,” the organisation said in a statement.

Most countries deem the settlements, which are built on land captured by Israel in 1967 in the Middle East War, to be illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees.

A US national security spokesperson denounced the expansion of the settlements, saying it “undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution, exacerbates tensions, and further harms trust between the two parties”.

The new plans include an extra thousand homes in the settlement of Eli, announced by the government after last week’s deadly shooting of four Israelis by Palestinian gunmen there.

Palestinian militant group Hamas said the gunmen were its members.

Mobs of settlers went on the rampage in Palestinian villages after that attack – homes were set on fire and one Palestinian was killed.

Over the weekend, Israel’s military, police and Shin Bet security service chiefs issued an unusual joint statement condemning the vigilantism.

Their move provoked an angry response from far-right members of the Israeli governing coalition.




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