US rebukes Israel over its plans to build 5,700 new settler homes in occupied territory

6/30/2023 10:22 PM

This week on Tuesday 27th June, at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Wood, made what has been described as a diplomatic rebuke to Israel. The rebuke was made in respect of Israel sanctioning  illegal settlements in Palestinian occupied territory, Israel’s failure to control growing settler violence in the West Bank, the continuing demolition by Israeli authorities of Palestinian homes and the incitement to violence by elected Israeli officials.  The rebuke came as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, sanctioned plans to build 5,700 new homes in the occupied West Bank.

The UN Deputy Ambassador, Robert Wood, said:

‘We are also deeply troubled by Israel’s recent announcements advancing more than 5,000 settlement units and reports of changes to Israel’s system of settlement administration that expedite the planning and approval of settlements’

The central thrust of his rebuke was directed at remarks made by Israeli elected officials, in particular the multiple provocative comments made by Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben-Givr. Ben-Givr - who is also the leader of a far-right party in Netanyahu’s coalition government, in a speech only last Friday made to settlers in the unauthorised colony settlement of Evyatar, was reported to have called on the military to kill thousands of Palestinian ‘terrorists’ in order to ‘fulfil our great mission’ of colonising the entire territory.

Settlement expansion is an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians and a barrier to a two state solution

The announcement by Netanyahu to expand settlement building came despite very direct warnings from the US in recent weeks, which has been outspoken in stating that such expansion as far as the US is concerned, is an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians and a barrier to a two state solution.

Israel intends 'the full annexation of the West bank'

The Israeli advocacy and activist group, Peace Now, which has campaigned for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, estimates that in the last six months alone, there have been more than 13,000 new illegal settlement homes built in the occupied West Bank. In a statement the group said:

 ‘The Israeli government is pushing us at an unprecedented pace towards the full annexation of the West Bank’

A spokesperson for US National Security, Matthew Miller, told a press conference on Monday that the United States was ‘deeply troubled’ by the move to build 5,700 housing units for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. He said:

We believe that settlements are an impediment to a negotiated two-state solution’

Financial Times calls for a boycott of goods produced in West Bank illegal settlements

In an editorial in this Wednesday’s Financial Times, the newspaper made a rare public call for the United States and Europe to issue a threat to ban imports of products produced in West Bank settlements.

The FT editorial read:

‘Given the gravity of what is happening, Washington and European capitals – which mostly consider Israeli settlements illegal and support a two-state solution – should take a tougher line. That means threatening to ban imports of goods produced in the settlements, and making clear that Israeli entities in occupied territory will not be treated as part of Israel’

In the same week on 25th June, the US State Department informed Israel that it would no longer be transferring funds to research institutes or scientific and technological projects taking place in the West Bank. The announcement confirms the reversal of a policy put in place by former US President Donald Trump, in the final weeks of his administration.