US condemns new Israeli plan on settlements

A Jewish settler looks at the West bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, from the E-1 area on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem. (File photo: AP)

The United States strongly condemned Israel’s decision to advance a plan for a new settlement deep in the West Bank, the State Department said on Wednesday, saying it would damage prospects for a two-state solution.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the move, which would create up to 300 housing units, undermined Israel’s long-term security interests and prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict.

“It is deeply troubling” that Israel would make this decision shortly after it reached an agreement with Washington on US military aid designed to bolster Israel’s security, Toner said.

The United States will give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the largest such aid package in US history, under a landmark agreement signed on Sept. 15.

Toner said the proposed new settlement was “deep in the West Bank,” closer to Jordan than Israel, and would link a string of other Jewish outposts that would divide the Palestinian region.

He also noted the “disheartening” timing of the decision shortly after the death of former President Shimon Peres, a passionate proponent of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution,” Toner said.

“Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48