US troubled by Israel’s move to legalise nine outposts in West Bank
Washington/Jerusalem: The United States today expressed its displeasure over Israel’s decision to advance reportedly nearly 10,000 settlement units and to begin a process to retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank that were previously illegal under Israeli law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier yesterday during a meeting of his government that he wanted to “strengthen settlements”, which are illegal under international law.
Besides the US, Europe and much of the Arab world, including countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel have criticised the move. A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antònio Guterres said the latter was “deeply concerned” and warned that “if these measures are implemented, they would further undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution.”
“He reiterates that all settlements are illegal under international law and a substantial obstacle to peace,” the spokesman said.
“We are deeply troubled by Israel’s decision…” US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken stated, adding that “like previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, we strongly oppose such unilateral measures…”.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that in response to the “murderous terrorist attacks” in Jerusalem, the security cabinet decided unanimously to authorise nine communities in Judea and Samaria”.
The US said such steps by Israel exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution. Blinken said, “As I have previously stated, anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two peoples is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, and to our vision of equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity, and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
The US called on all parties to avoid additional actions that can further escalate tensions in the region and to take practical steps that can improve the well-being of the Palestinian people. However, Israel hopes that such disagreements would not harm the strong US-Israel alliance.
Israel’s security cabinet’s decision yesterday to legalise nine settlements in the occupied West Bank followed a series of attacks in east Jerusalem, including one that killed three Israelis. On February 10, 2023, a Palestinian killed three Israeli civilians, including two children, at a bus stop in Ramot, a Jewish settlement neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.
Yesterday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in a raid in the northern West Bank. Moreover, in an overnight operation last night, Israel launched air strikes against a Hamas complex in Gaza in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave, the military said early today. Moreover, today evening (local time), a 22-year-old police officer Staff Sgt. Asil Sawaed, was killed in a stabbing attack by 13-year-old Muhammad Bassel Fathi Zalbani, a resident of the Shuafat Refugee Camp, at a checkpoint near the entrance of the Shuafat refugee camp. Zalbani was detained. The attack came just hours after a 14-year-old Palestinian, also from the Shuafat refugee camp, allegedly stabbed and wounded an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem’s Old City. Moreover, a Palestinian man was reportedly killed and seven others injured in a shootout with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus today.
Since the beginning of the year, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 46 Palestinians and ten Israeli civilians.
However, there are more troubles ahead since uneasiness prevails over the judicial reforms in the country which has invited wide-scale public protests. While thousands of Israelis protested outside their parliament today against the reforms that give the government more say over judicial appointments. The reforms are seen to severely weaken the ability of the Supreme Court to strike down laws.
There appears a conflict within the government over these issues. Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, in a rare move, warned that the country was on the verge of constitutional and social collapse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu though says the current system where laws passed by an elected parliament can be overturned by the Supreme Court is undemocratic. Even US President Joe Biden criticised the Israeli government’s move.
– global bihari bureau