US and International Community Condemn Israeli Government’s Expansion of Settlements
The US has expressed its deep concern over the Israeli government’s announcement last week to expand settlements and retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank, which are illegal under international law. The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico also released a joint statement condemning the move, saying it posed a risk to the “viability of the two-state solution”.
The Israeli government’s plan to legalize the outposts would “impede peace” and “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution,” the US said in a statement. The Obama administration, however, did abstain on a UN resolution that deemed all Israeli settlement activity illegal in December 2016.
The US and international community have continuously opposed settlement activity, which is seen as illegal under international law. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court Rome Statute both prohibit settlement activity, and the UN has called Israeli settlements a “war crime”.
Israel's National Security Advisor Tzahi HaNegbi said Monday that the US had planned to veto the UN Security Council resolution against settlements and as a result, the Palestinian Authority pulled the text.
The US, however, has used its veto power at the UN Security Council dozens of times to protect Israel from criticism over its international law violations.
In response to the Israeli government’s plan, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich sought government recognition of 77 illegal settler outposts. Ben-Gvir, who leads the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, tweeted Sunday that though it was “not enough”, it was “an important start”.
Israel has also told the US that in the coming months, it will not regularize any new settlements, aside from the nine West Bank outposts already approved. Israel has not pledged to cease the destruction of unauthorized structures in Area C areas.
The US has been clear and consistent in its position that it strongly opposes expansion of settlements and is deeply concerned by reports about a process to legalize outposts that are illegal under Israeli law. The Biden administration has also said it will refuse to accept any unilateral actions which Washington believes harm the two-state solution and the status quo arrangements at the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
0. “Israel declares temporary pause on new West Bank settlements” BBC, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-64654635
1. “Four Latin American Nations Reject Israel's Moves in Palestine” teleSUR English, 18 Feb. 2023, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Four-Latin-American-Nations-Reject-Israels-Moves-in-Palestine-20230217-0014.html
2. “Israel ‘Legalizes' 9 Apartheid Settler Colonies in Occupied Palestine” Common Dreams, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.commondreams.org/news/settlements-in-israel
3. “Israel: US planned to veto UNSC resolution on settlements, PA knew this” The Jerusalem Post, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-732131
4. “US criticism of Israeli settlements is ‘meaningless’: Analysts” Al Jazeera English, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/17/us-criticism-of-israeli-settlements-is-meaningless-analysts
5. “Israel Defies International Law to Legalize 9 Settler Colonies on Occupied Land” Truthout, 13 Feb. 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/israel-defies-international-law-to-legalize-9-settler-colonies-on-occupied-land/
6. “Israel to US: we won't authorize new settlements in coming months” The Jerusalem Post, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-732142
7. “UN Confrontation Avoided, but Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Headed for Further Escalation” The Media Line, 20 Feb. 2023, https://themedialine.org/top-stories/un-confrontation-avoided-but-israeli-palestinian-conflict-headed-for-further-escalation/
8. “Nine outposts and 10,000 homes | JNS | clevelandjewishnews.com” Cleveland Jewish News, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/jns/nine-outposts-and-10-000-homes/article_7cbff9ca-32e8-5952-ae5a-3968eff7aa1d.html
9. “Israel ‘legalises' Colonial Outposts, causing further Irritation in Washington” Informed Comment, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.juancole.com/2023/02/legalises-irritation-washington.html