US ‘extremely troubled’ by Israeli parliament vote to legitimize settlements

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The United States said Tuesday it was “extremely troubled” by the Israeli parliament's vote legitimizing some settlements, calling the move "provocative" and in violation of promises to ally Washington.

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“The United States is extremely troubled that the Israeli Knesset has passed legislation rescinding important parts of the 2005 disengagement law,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“The legislative changes announced today are particularly provocative and counterproductive to efforts to restore some measure of calm as we head into the Ramadan, Passover and Easter holidays,” he said.

Patel said the move was in “clear contradiction” of promises made by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon to then-US president George W. Bush as well as assurances made just two days ago by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“The US strongly urges Israel to refrain from allowing the return of settlers to the area covered by the legislation, consistent with former prime minister Sharon and the current Israeli government's commitment to the United States,” he said.

The vote pushed by the hard-right government annulled part of a law that banned settlers from living in areas of the West Bank evacuated in 2005.

Patel, however, stopped short of announcing any repercussions against Israel for its actions.

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